Idyllwld Fire Commission President Jeannine Charles-Stigall holds the model fire engines, Ward Johnson of Long Beach, holds the plaque he gave the commission and Fire Chief Patrick Reitz with a photo of Johnson and his plaque. Photo by J.P. Crumrine

Ward Johnson, 53, returned to Idyllwild and gratefully presented the Idyllwild Fire District with a plaque and photo at its March 26 meeting.

In late December 1972, Johnson was sledding on Strong Drive. He crossed South Circle Drive and a passing car hit him.

The driver stopped, looked at Johnson on the ground, then got back in the car and drove away.

The Idyllwild Fire Department transported Johnson to Hemet Hospital. He was later transferred with severe head injuries.

After months in the hospital, he finally recovered and has been forever grateful to the department. He told the commission, “You saved my life.”

He’s a huge supporter [of IFPD],” affirmed Fire Chief Patrict Reitz. “I’ve heard from him often.”

Johnson has been an enthusiastic supporter of the department’s annual spaghetti dinner. He holds the ticket selling record — 52 — for one dinner.

The Town Crier published these photos in 1972, after Ward Johnson was hit by a vehicle while sledding. Town Crier file photo