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Inmate firefighter collapses, dies on training hike during first day on job

Inmate firefighter collapses, dies on training hike during first day on job
Anthony Colacino, 33, died after he collapsed during a training hike on his first day serving as an inmate firefighter. (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation)

An inmate firefighter died after he collapsed during a training hike at the Sierra Conservation Center in Northern California.

It was Anthony Colacino's first day on the job Saturday, when 50 minutes into the roughly hourlong hike, the 33-year-old inmate collapsed, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

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The on-duty fire captain, along with four other inmate firefighters, took Colacino to the center's firehouse, where they tried to save him by doing CPR in the vehicle and at the facility until an ambulance arrived, said Krissi Khokhobashvili, a corrections spokeswoman.

"Those inmate firefighters, they jumped into action," she said. "They did what they're supposed to do."

Colacino — who had served more than a year of a four-year, four-month sentence out of Riverside County for two counts of evading a peace officer while driving recklessly, cruelty to animals and discharging a firearm with gross negligence — was pronounced dead soon after. Officials said foul play is not suspected in his death, but the Tuolumne County coroner will determine the cause of death.

The Sierra Conservation Center, which opened in 1965, is one of two state prisons that trains male inmates and places them in the Conservation Camp Program, whose members respond to fires, earthquakes and floods alongside first responders.

All inmates who participate go through physical and mental evaluations, Khokhobashvili said.

Twitter: @AleneTchek

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