MALIBU, Calif. – A 22-year-old inmate firefighter died a day after a large rock struck her as she battled a brush fire in Southern California, corrections officials said Friday.
Shawna Lynn Jones was taken by helicopter to UCLA Medical Center with major head injuries Thursday after she was hit by a rock that fell about 100 feet from the hillside above her, said Inspector Randall Wright of the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
She was taken off life support after her organs were donated, as her family requested, said Bill Sessa, a spokesman with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
Jones is the third inmate firefighter to die on a fire line since the nation's oldest and largest inmate firefighting program began in 1943.
"Her death is a tragic reminder of the danger that inmate firefighters face when they volunteer to confront fires to save homes and lives," Corrections Secretary Scott Kernan said in a statement offering condolences to her family.
She was a Los Angeles County jail inmate who joined the firefighting program in August 2015. Officials say she was behind bars for drug possession.
Jones died fighting a 10-acre fire in the Santa Monica Mountains above Malibu during an unusually summerlike Southern California winter that has increased the danger of wildfires.
The fire was reported before dawn Thursday in an area of rugged slopes and peaks several miles inland from the luxury estates along the Malibu coast.
Jones was housed at a firefighting facility that is one of five jointly operated with the Los Angeles County Fire Department. The Malibu facility is one of three statewide that house a total of 195 female firefighters.
They are among about 3,500 male and female inmate firefighters statewide who use hand tools to cut containment lines to stop the spread of wildfires.