The charred remains of Doctor Scott Witt’s Toyota Tacoma at least show a semblance of what it once looked like.
Not so for his family’s home.
But what Dr. Witt lost was far less than what he saved when he evacuated newborn babies under his care from the hospital where he worked.
Dr. Witt, the 45-year-old director of Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital’s neonatal ICU, faced the fury of the Tubbs fire on Oct. 8th so he could get to the hospital and help make sure the eight premature babies under his care were safe and sound.
“I got a call at 2 a.m. basically saying that there was some fire encroaching on the hospital so we might have to evacuate,” Dr. Witt told KTVU.
Meanwhile, his own neighborhood was also under threat of the fire. Dr. Witt told his family of five children and his wife to leave their Fountaingrove home while he made his way toward the hospital in his pickup truck.
But along the way, the fire changed his plans. The fire was wreaking havoc on the highway, creating a traffic jam in the middle of the night as flames licked across the road.
The solution: turn around and get on his BMW motorcycle that can weave through traffic.
“In California, you can split lanes so I just kind of went down the middle of lanes and got past everybody,” said Dr. Witt.
Dr. Witt then made his way through four miles of strong winds and burning debris, skirting past traffic by going through it or riding on the gravel shoulder of the road.
Once he got to the hospital, Dr. Witt and his medical team got the babies ready to travel and loaded them into ambulances for transport to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital six miles away.
The evacuation took several trips and three hours. Dr. Witt followed the final ambulance to the new hospital to ensure everything was in proper order.
Along the way, they faced a new threat, he told KTVU.
“There were downed power lines that were live that we rolled over,” said Dr. Witt.
The adventure has given Dr. Witt a new nickname: the James Dean of neonatal.
The Christian physician is literally a boy-scout, and any rebelliousness, like racing through traffic, certainly has a cause.
But while Dr. Witt laughs off his new nickname, less funny is the personal cost the fire took on him and his own family.
Now friends and colleagues are trying to get the doctor a head start on a new home with a YouCaring campaign to raise $20,000.
“As the fires approached the hospital, our NICU medical director Scott Witt hopped on his motorcycle, wove through downed power lines and falling debris to lead the evacuation of our intensive care nursery at Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital,” reads the campaign description.
“Their house and possessions were totally destroyed. Help us thank our hero by getting his family on their road to recovery.”