Person:Michael Raffesberger (1)

Michael Lynn Raffesberger
b.18 Apr 1953
Facts and Events
Name Michael Lynn Raffesberger
Gender Male
Birth? 18 Apr 1953
Death? 31 Jan 2001 San Bernadino Co., California

Copyright SAN DIEGO UNION TRIBUNE PUBLISHING COMPANY Feb 3, 2001 SAN MARCOS -- Michael Raffesberger died a hero, trying to save his sonwho was trapped inside a camper on a busy freeway in San BernardinoCounty.

In a tragic and bizarre accident Wednesday morning, the San Marcos manwas killed when a car knocked the camper into him.

Just after 8 a.m., Raffesberger's 19-year-old son, Ray, was sleeping inthe camper on his father's Toyota Tacoma pickup truck. They were on theirway to Fresno to repair equipment their family- owned company operates.

Winds of more than 40 mph ripped the camper top off the truck, and dumpedit onto Interstate 15 in Rancho Cucamonga.

"I was half asleep in the camper, and the next thing I knew I was flyingthrough the air inside the camper," Ray Raffesberger said at the familyhome on Viking Lane.

"It landed hard and skidded to a stop. I don't remember a lot of whathappened, but I know I was struggling to get out."

Michael Raffesberger pulled onto the median and ran back to help. But ashe struggled to either free his son or push the camper to safety, a carstruck the camper and slammed it into him.

The father, who was 47, was flown by helicopter to Loma Linda UniversityMedical Center in Loma Linda, where he was pronounced dead at 9:09 a.m.Wednesday, said Randy Emon, supervising deputy coroner for San BernardinoCounty.

"He had multiple injuries, but we have not yet done an autopsy todetermine the exact cause of death," Emon said.

There was another fatality from the accident. The family's dog, Trouble,a shepherd-Labrador mix, was also hit by the camper and suffered asevered spinal cord, Ray Raffesberger said. She later had to be put tosleep.

The younger Raffesberger was taken to Arrowhead Medical Center in Colton.He was in the hospital for about five hours before his grandfather, alsonamed Ray, picked him up and drove him back to San Diego County.

"I had some bumps and bruises, and a minor concussion," the teen- agersaid Thursday. "But I'm all right."

Raffesberger said his father and mother divorced when he was about 3, andhe has lived with his father on the quiet residential street in north SanMarcos for the last 12 years.

"He was the greatest guy I ever met," he said of his father. "He wouldalways try to help anyone who needed it. Just like he tried to help me.

"I'm really going to miss him. We went camping and did a lot of thingstogether."

The Raffesbergers own a family business in Vista called Coast IntelligenInc. that manufactures co-generation units. The grandfather is presidentof the company, Michael Raffesberger was in charge of computers andelectronics, and Ray Raffesberger works in assembly.

Two of Michael Raffesberger's brothers, Glen, 51, and Wayne, 49, also areassociated with the company. Wayne Raffesberger, the attorney for thebusiness, described his brother Michael as multitalented.

"He was interested in a lot of different things," Wayne Raffesbergersaid. "He graduated from Helix High School and went to the University ofOregon, where he received his master's degree in education.

"He was an elementary school teacher in Eugene, Oregon, for 11 years,when he decided he wanted to move back to San Diego County and get intosomething else."

Michael Raffesberger attended Coleman College and received a degree inelectronics, and then joined the company business, his brother said.

"He was also into computers, and he designed the computer software forour co-generator units.

"He also liked to backpack and go camping. He made stained-glass windows,and he was an excellent gardener. He liked music, and played guitar andbanjo. He loved rock 'n' roll music, and he used to drive us crazybecause he played it so loud."

Michael was a character, Wayne Raffesberger said, liked by everyone."There's one other thing I'd like to say, if I can get the words out: Hedied a hero."

Michael Raffesberger's body was cremated yesterday, his brother said. Noformal church service is planned, he said, "but we do plan a celebrationof Michael's life within the next few weeks."