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Paramedic Finds Dying Officer Is Her Brother

August 3, 1988

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ A paramedic called to Golden Gate Park to aid a policeman accidentally shot in the head by his partner discovered that the dying man was her brother and that her husband had loaned him the gun, authorities said.

Officer James Bloesch, 36, died at San Francisco General Hospital on Tuesday morning after being shot with the .357-caliber pistol while examining the gun with his partner.

His sister, Irene Ager, and her husband, Steven, were in the closest available ambulance when the call came in from the police department’s stables in Golden Gate Park.

They were not told the name of the victim. Mrs. Ager, knowing her brother’s work schedule, ″had an inkling it might be her brother, but she didn’t want to believe that feeling,″ said her supervisor, paramedic Capt. Ronald Louie.

″They found (Bloesch) in his dying breath,″ he said Wednesday. ″They did what they had to do as professionals. They performed as prescribed until someone could take over. No one could have expected more.″

On realizing that the officer was her brother, Mrs. Ager called for a replacement crew, fearing that she and her husband could not handle their duties, said city Health Department spokeswoman Beverly Hayon.

Nonetheless, the Agers helped resuscitation efforts already under way. One of them inserted a tube to open an air passage into Bloesch’s lungs, said Louie. They then loaded Bloesch, who did not regain consciousness, into their ambulance before the backup paramedics arrived. The second crew drove Bloesch to the hospital.

The Agers, who each have been paramedics for about seven years and met on the job, were given emergency leaves of absence.

The pistol was registered to Steven Ager and had been lent to Bloesch for off-duty use. Bloesch’s partner and longtime friend, James Mahoney, 40, was examining it because Bloesch was having problems operating it, said police spokesman Dave Ambrose.

Bloesch, a mounted officer for seven years, had asked Mahoney to check the silver-plated pistol. Officer Stanley Buscovich, who was present near the scene but did not witness the shooting, told investigators the gun had malfunctioned previously, said homicide Lt. Jerry McCarthy.

Bloesch and Mahoney sat on a bench in the small locker room and passed the gun between them several times. Buscovich sat between the two, facing the opposite direction.

Mahoney examined the unloaded gun and handed it to Bloesch. Bloesch then loaded it, apparently without Mahoney’s knowledge, and passed it back.

Buscovich said Mahoney took a final look and declared, ″It’s a fine gun.″ Several moments later, the gun fired and a single bullet struck Bloesch, a decorated 16-year veteran of the force.

Police Chief Frank Jordan termed the shooting an ″unfortunate tragedy″ and said he was satisfied it was an accident.

Officers cried outside the stables, and flags were lowered to half-staff at the Hall of Justice and the stables.

Bloesch, of San Rafael, had been awarded a silver medal of valor and two bronze medals of valor. He is survived by a wife and three children.

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