Gerald W. Quigley helped to save Kenneth G. Hamilton from suffocation, Foresthill, California, June 20, 1970. Hamilton, 26, forestry fire apparatus engineer, and two other men entered an abandoned gold mine 132 feet below ground level to remove a man who had been overcome by lack of oxygen 2,700 feet from the mine’s entrance shaft. With breathing equipment necessary beyond 1,600 feet from the shaft, Hamilton and the other men proceeded along the tunnel, which was five to seven feet in width and in height, and reached the unconscious man. They had carried him only 30 feet when Hamilton and one of the other men lost consciousness; but the third man made his way back to the safe area to get help. Quigley, 26, forestry fire apparatus engineer, entered the mine and, with breathing equipment, made his way to the three unconscious men. Quigley gave air to Hamilton, who responded. Sharing the air from his equipment, Quigley aided Hamilton back to the safe area, both being assisted the final 400 feet. Hamilton recovered fully. Efforts of others resulted in the removal of the other two men, only one of whom recovered.
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Gerald W. Quigley, retired battalion chief for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, died on Feb. 28, 2018. Quigley, 73, was born in Portland, Ore., on June 13, 1944, to Earl and Katherine Quigley. He was raised in the California communities of Fortuna and Alturas. It was in Alturas where he met his high school sweetheart, the former Marsha Sides, to whom he was married for 55 years.
Quigley started his career with CAL FIRE in 1966 in Siskiyou County. Throughout his career, he worked in Siskiyou, Nevada/Yuba/Placer, San Luis Obispo, Shasta/Trinity, and Lassen/Modoc counties. He finished his career in 1995 as a district ranger in Bieber, Calif.
During his 29 years of service, Quigley received the Medal of Valor and the Carnegie Medal. In 1970, at the age of 26, he helped to save a fellow engineer from suffocation in an abandoned gold mine. Quigley also received a letter of commendation from the State of California for his actions on the Potrero fire in 1973. He helped to provide first aid to a fellow firefighter and did a great deal towards reducing the severity of his injuries. He also was commended for leading his crew in an organized and disciplined manner during a period of extreme danger.
Quigley had a passion for baseball and the Arizona Diamondbacks. He never missed spring training in Arizona, where he resided for the last 20 years of his life.
(Edited from an obituary published on the website for the Girdner Funeral Chapel in Yreka, Calif.)