Family, Friends & Fellow Officers Remember...

Officer John William Grubensky

Oakland Police Department, California

End of Watch Sunday, October 20, 1991

Leave a Reflection

Reflections for Officer John William Grubensky

John I miss you and our talks about our beats. You were the real deal pal.

Retired Patrol Kevin Allen

August 20, 2023

Officer Grubensky and his family,

You made the ultimate sacrifice to save the lives of others. You will never be forgotten.

I lived at 6951 Charing Cross Road. I saw you drive slowly past my house, telling people on the loud speaker attached to your car to EVACUATE IMMEDIATELY. I was probably one minute behind you in my car as I evacuated on Charing Cross Road through the narrow section towards Hiller Highlands and I believe you turned up Sherwick Drive towards the main fire into danger. That was such unimaginable heroism. Risking your life to save others.

Thank you, thank you........

I saw 2 posts by a Howard, I'm sorry but I couldn't remember your last name. I believe you lived across the street from me.
Take care.

Les Isozaki
Charing Cross Resident

August 14, 2023

Officer John William Grubensky saved my life that day 32 years ago. In the confusion of the fire I had lost all perspective and did note realize just how much trouble we were in. Officer Grubensky, through the use of some rather salty language drove reality home, and we quickly left.

I think of Officer Grubensky frequently and will always be grateful for his sacrifice.

Howard Fites

July 7, 2023

I was working for Regional Ambulance as a new paramedic that day. I was 20 years old. We were posting at Seminary/580. We used to have the police scanner on continuously because we were allowed to auto-dispatch ourselves when shootings and stabbings were dispatched by OPD. They got the calls way before we did at our dispatch center. I remember listening to him on the radio call for help. He sounded terrified and kept referring to a woman that was with him. And how they needed help quickly or they didn’t think they were going to make it. I remember turning to my partner and saying this sounds really bad. I don’t know if this guy is going to make it. He sounds afraid for his life. Just then, we got dispatched to set up initial EMS command. Right into the fire. I was on the first ambulance into the fire. It was beyond scary! I think I literally heard his last words that morning on the radio. I can attest he died valiantly and selflessly trying to help others.

Craig Pruiett, Medic
Regional Ambulance (then), Austin-Travis County EMS (Current)

June 2, 2023

All these years and this is still a painful memory. It's unfortunate that the word "hero" is used so casually today. Officer Grubensky sacrificed his life trying to save others. He was a genuine hero. RIP


October 20, 2021

i just found about you i am in tears your sacrifice will be remembered and your death was not in vain may you rest soundly beyond heavens gates


May 4, 2021

I loved working with John. He always made everyone feel special. Love you and really miss you.

Former OPD Patrol/Kevin Allen

April 3, 2020

Rest in peace and Olav Hashalom Officer Grubensky.

Rabbi Lewis S. Davis

June 18, 2019

I was working in the radio room when the dispatcher on air was calling you. Over. And over. And over. The rest of the room was silent as we all held our breath, waiting,hoping,praying to hear your voice. It never came. We learned later that you had taken an extra shift on your day off and responded to the fire early on. You led dozens,perhaps hundreds of people to safety. And from witness accounts, you could have saved yourself but chose to stay. Your faith in God enabled you to give your life for others, knowing you would soon be in His loving arms.
Thank you for your ultimate sacrifice. You will never be forgotten.

Ret. Dispatcher

March 19, 2018

Dear Officer Grubensky,

I was the last fire survivor to see you alive. I was waiting on Charing Cross and Sherwick Drive as you stopped the down coming cars. You opened the doors and let these people be driven to safety.

I was in the last group left when you stopped a pickup truck. I had a chance to go to your car or a truck driven by a women who could not speak English. Some people went to your car, my son went into the back of the pickup truck.

You helped me climb into truck. As our car moved away, I saw you walking back to you patrol car.

Our truck had to drive through fire to escape. Unfortunately, your patrol car did not.

Thank you for saving so many lives. You were the captain who left your ship last. What a hero! Doing your duty was the last thing you did.

Thank you.

Howard Matis
Oakland Hills Fire Survivor

October 25, 2017

Rest In Peace Brother. You are a Hero. Thank you for your service and sacrifice. We pray for your family and your family in blue.

Officer Mike Robinson, (Ret)
Upland Police Dept. CA

October 20, 2017

Brother, thank you for your service. God Bless you!

Chief Victor Araiza
El Paso ISD Police Department

October 21, 2016

I believe Officer Grubensky was killed during the Oakland Hills fire. That was a tragic time. What a hero. Thank you Officer Grubensky

Stan Jefferson

October 20, 2015

This was the greatest police officer than I have ever had the pleasure of meeting on multiple occasions. He was honest forthright & fair. If every cop were like him, there would be police work without incident. Rest In Peace friend, I'll see you the other side.

Terrence Clark

January 18, 2015

I was there. Saddest day of my rookie year. I will never forget the dispatcher continuously calling him over the radio.. no answer.

Sgt. Robert Supriano

October 19, 2014

You are not forgotten

Chief Scott Coppess
Once OPD, Always OPD

October 19, 2014

I remember the day like it was yesterday. I was working not more than a half mile from where you fell and wished I, along with everyone else could've been there for you.

"I knew you well, my friend and fellow co-worker! May you rest in peace!" I will never forget!

Officer Bruce White
Oakland Police

October 19, 2013

Hey, That's my Dad :)

It looks like were coming up on that anniversary again.

There are still flowers up on that hill, and will continue to be.

I did not expect to come across these posts tonight. It has been an awakening reflection. There's still some warm sentiment out there.

J. Grub

Joshua Earl Grubensky

October 17, 2013

Today's stunning loss of 19 firefighters in Arizona reminded me of the sacrifice of Officer Grubensky. I did not know him, but I livd in Suisun City and he was a Fairfield resident. I have not forgetten his sacrifice.

Ken Delfino, Volunteer
Placer County Sheriffs' Office

July 1, 2013

I just found this web-site on OPD Fallen Hero's. I read All 31 Reflections on John,ect. I meet John before he became a OP. John and I were working for a "Financial Services Company" in Oakland.
When I meet John he was a Young Man with alot of "Heart & Personality"I worked with thousands of people and John had something very special. I later learned that John had joined the OPD To "Protect & Serve Oakland". The events of 10/20/1991 have been described by many grateful people already.
Thank you for this opportunity to let me tell you the John I knew so many years ago.


May 10, 2013

Every year since 2009 I have made the blue ribbons with the 51 names of the Oakland Police Officers who have died in the line of duty. It is my honor to do this for the fallen officers. The ribbons hang on a tree outside the Warehouse Bar and Grill in Oakland, California for all to see the sacrifice they have made to keep us safe. God bless you all and rest in peace.

A grateful citizen

February 24, 2012

Rest in Peace, Officer Grubensky. Your sacrifice is not forgotten.

Officer 11169

January 16, 2012

I remember the firestorm like it was yesterday. The flames and later the smell of smoldering ashes, the graveyard of chimneys, the melted aluminum wheels, the injured animals and the devastation.

Your heroic attempt to save others will never be forgotten. So many died on that tried your best and ultimately sacrificed your life.

May you rest in peace.


October 20, 2011

With the word "hero" thrown around freely in our society for sports figures and the like, more people should read this story and understand the true meaning of the word..."HERO"!
May God continue to bless you and your family!

R. Emary
Chandler, Az PD

March 15, 2010

I never got the chance to say thank you for the many lives you saved during the Oakland fire on October 20, 1991. I was in the fire area that day and I remember looking over the hill at the firestorm and thinking, "if anyone comes up here to fight this thing, they'll surely die trying." It was a horrible and frightening sight. I know that you kept your cool and saved the lives of many people that day. You didn't run from it, you stayed. Your calm courage and heroic acts will never, ever be forgotten. Every October 20th, I walk by the spot where you died. Every October 20th, there are flowers placed there in your memory. R.I.P., Officer Grubensky, and thank you from the bottom of my heart.


October 17, 2009

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