Rodney Alan Foster, 53, a correctional officer with the Siskiyou County Sheriffs Department, was killed November 17, 1995, when his county van hit a tractor-trailer Interstate 5 in a 30-vehicle accident resulting from speed and a slick road surface.
Seventeen persons were injured in the chain-reaction crash. Lieutenant Gary Peery of the Siskiyou County Jail explained Foster’s mission that day: “We had an infectious hepatitis outbreak at the jail and only a limited number of gamma globulin doses left. Foster was en route to Shasta and Tehama counties to obtain additional doses needed for both staff and inmates.”
About 6:15 p.m. Foster was about three miles south of Soda Creek. A truck crashed on a blind curve. The next vehicle around the curve was Foster’s, and it was wedged underneath the truck. Approximately thirty more vehicles rounded the corner and piled into the wreckage, pushed him further underneath.
“We think his death was instantaneous, the result of multiple trauma from the impact,” said Peery.
“Everyone here is still in a state of shock,” Peery continued in an emotion-laden voice. “Rod was kind of … well, we used to call him the gentle giant. He was a kind, Christian man who practiced the values he believed in. He treated everyone with respect, including the inmates. They knew they couldn’t push him around, and they respected him for what he stood for.
“He was the kind of guy you could rely on to do anything. He was well respected up and down the state.”
Foster had worked for the Siskiyou County department as a correctional officer at the county jail since 1987. In 1992, he was assigned the duty of coordinating all transportation of inmates outside the jail environment.
This duty is considered critical by the sheriff’s department. A department press release said Foster had done an exceptional job coordinating all the jail activities with other law enforcement agencies, ensuring that inmates were transported efficiently throughout the state with a minimum expenditure of manpower and money.
Foster was responsible for prison transports and out-of-county inmate pickups. He made certain that inmates would make their court appearances and also supervised inmate transportation to medical appointments outside the jail.
“Officer Foster had developed an excellent rapport with all allied agencies, which was imperative if his job was to be done effectively with only one officer assigned to the function,” the sheriff’s department said. “Foster served in the capacity of correctional officer for the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Department and county jail in an exemplary manner.”
Foster had been named the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Department Correctional Officer of the Year for 1994.
Foster is survived by his wife Margo of Montague; a daughter, Theresa, of Grass Valley; a son, Bruce, of Yreka; his mother, Genevieve Megill, and a sister, Judy Ann Tobin, both of Martinez, Georgia; and a brother, Edward, of Turlock.
A memorial fund was established at the Assembly of God Church, 2608 Highway 97, Weed, CA 96094, where Foster was a member of the board of trustees.