Folks, please be alert, careful, and sober, not only on rural roads but wherever you are, whatever the hour or season.
This 5-fatality head-on was not on a fast, brain-numbing stretch of interstate, but on Hwy 120, the rural road between Groveland and the Big Oak Flat entrance to Yosemite.
Both parties involved were fairly local and perhaps even familiar with the road; the cars were 2012s registered in San Jose and Merced – not rentals. Both may have been heading to or from a wonderful time in Yosemite. Now all their lives have been destroyed because one or both cars crossed the center line on Hwy 120.
Newer cars have airbags, but those don’t prevent fuel tanks from exploding in a collision and trapping folks to die an agonizing death. Five people died at the scene, and the two survivors had to be airlifted to the hospital.
It was 6:30 p.m. – was the sun's angle in the west a factor? This is a two-lane rural road but safe for any alert and prudent driver; how fast were they going? Were they sober? Did both cars have lights on? We don’t know any of these things, but folks who have read my posts about Tioga Pass know that I always suggest starting west before the sun is low enough to be a distraction or a safety issue, and to allow time for a leisurely trip to enjoy the sights.
Wrecks like this are all too frequent in various places, and having been a 911 dispatcher for 9 years, they were all too frequent in my career. This one sticks in my mind because I was up there just a few weeks ago and it is such a gorgeous place where such tragedies, in a setting where people go to experience natural beauty and tranquility, seem extra terrible.
Have a safe and enjoyable trip, everyone.