Calif. EMT dies in motorcycle crash
Thomas Butler, an EMT at Riggs Ambulance Service in Merced County, had recently completed paramedic school
By Erin Tracy
The Modesto Bee
MODESTO, Calif. — The motorcyclist who died in a crash on Oakdale-Waterford Highway last week was a local emergency medical technician.
Thomas ‘TJ’ Butler worked as an EMT at Riggs Ambulance Service in Merced County since 2014 and at American Medical Response in Stanislaus County for four years before that.
His brother, Larry Butler, said he’d recently completed paramedic school and only needed to complete his internship before becoming licensed.
On the evening of July 1, TJ Butler left his home in Waterford on his Suzuki motorcycle to meet family for dinner in Riverbank.
He was riding north on the Oakdale-Waterford Highway when he collided with a vehicle that pulled out in front of him, according to the California Highway Patrol.
TJ Butler’s helmet came off as he was ejected from the motorcycle. He died at the scene.
“His death has really shaken us all,” said Riggs Executive Director Carly Alley. “He is truly missed, and he was definitely one of the great ones here.”
Alley described TJ Butler as gentle, caring and compassionate. She said he was an advocate for his patients and a good example to his co-workers, many of whom he helped train.
Larry Butler said working in the medical profession came naturally to his big brother.
“He just wanted to help people,” he said. “He always had a thing about him to be a guardian to … everyone who was around him to make sure we were doing the right things and being safe. He was always a protector.”
Butler leaves behind his 9-year-old daughter Hailey, 5-year-old son Liam and spouse Jessica Turpitt.
A memorial service will be held on Thursday at 10 a.m. at Calvary Baptist Church, 1732 Miller Avenue, Modesto, followed by a graveside service at Lakewood Memorial Park.
©2019 The Modesto Bee (Modesto, Calif.)