03 January 2010

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon #3942

This morning at 2:30 a.m. those familiar sounds on Carbon Canyon Road reverberated through Sleepy Hollow in Chino Hills. An engine's roar, the short, intense burst of squealing tires and the thud and crash of fiberglass and metal against trees greeted us in our deep slumberings right across the street from our house.

As I dialed 9-1-1, I could see a black sedan off the westbound (north) side of the road and several young men (I know, I know) standing at the side. When I went outside, I could hear that universal lamentation of a young intoxicated man in distress, "F$#k, dude!" The driver was out of the car and leaning against it, muttering the appropriate phrase over and over, "F$#k, dude! F$#k, dude!" . Of course, when a neighbor came out with a flashlight to inquire if everyone was all right, the tone turned polite and respectful, the way their parents would undoubtedly want them to reply to their elders, "We're fine. Thank you, sir!"

Actually, nothing was fine for the driver. As soon as the three Sheriff's Department patrol cars, followed by the obligatory fire engine and ambulance rolled up within a few minutes, said driver was administered field sobriety and breathalyzer tests. Alas, he was handcuffed, put in a squad car and taken away, to face his DUI-determined destiny. I could see his friends remonstrating with the officers to no effect (one wonders if these concerned compatriots were miraculously sober while their friend was the only chemically-impaired lad in the bunch.)

I stumbled back upstairs to bed, but, from past experience, should have known better. Fifty minutes after the accident, a tow truck rumbled up and the noisy business of pulling the mangled sedan from its precarious roadside perch began.

Yet, the excitement was hardly over: within fifteen minutes, as cars were stopped in both directions for the removal of the mangled vehicle, another dark sedan, going too fast westbound at the curve leading toward the Rosemary Lane intersection, skidded and then rear-ended an expensive-looking European-styled convertible. This was within just a few feet of a patrol car that had its lights flashing to stop cars that we're approaching the initial accident scene.

I suppose that police vehicle probably should have been stationed at the curve directly across from Rosemary Lane and, five minutes after the accident, it did so. Then again, why was said driver (who was, yes, yet another young man) in the second sedan traveling so fast anyway?

Once more, the obligatory fire truck was called back for a brief, cursory inspection and the second sedan and the fine convertible stayed at the new accident scene for twenty minutes before being allowed to continue on their way to Orange County.

Well, it took a few takes, but the tow truck successfully removed the first sedan, sans bumpers, and headed back towards Chino Hills with its quarry, which may be totaled. Two patrol cars remained behind, parked on Rosemary Lane at Carbon Canyon Road, until about 4:10 a.m. and then drove back eastward.

Quiet remained supreme once more in Sleepy Hollow!

Addendum: Text of an e-mail sent at 2 p.m. Sunday to the Chino Hills City Council

Dear Council Members,

On 30 November 2009, I sent an e-mail to you detailing my concerns about frequent traffic issues on Carbon Canyon Road after a truck flipped onto its side after leaving the roadway going eastbound at the intersection of the state highway at Rosemary Lane in Sleepy Hollow, where I live.

Shortly afterward, I received a reply on your behalf that I would be hearing from City Manager Michael Fleager. I have not yet received any contact from Mr. Fleager.

In the meantime, earlier today, at 2:30 a.m., a driver lost control of his vehicle on the westbound side of SR 142 just past Rosemary Lane and went off the side of the road directly across from my home.

[a concise description of the accident follows]

The chemically-impaired driver was moving far too fast. A simple matter of a change in steering could easily have led him into opposing lanes. Assuming that there was a probability that another car could have been in that lane, the results could have been serious and, perhaps, deadly.

My fundamental concern is no different now than it was on 30 November 2009 nor in any one of a dozen times or so that I've had to call 9-1-1 or police dispatch for accidents just in this Sleepy Hollow area where I live since I moved here in March 2004. Regular incidents occur on SR 142 on both the Brea and Chino Hills sides that amply demonstrate that dangerous and potentially deadly driving behaviors are a regular occurrence.

Yet, I will reiterate that almost no traffic enforcement at all takes place at the times when most of the incidents occur, mainly evenings and weekend evenings, in particular, as has been the case with the last two incidents I've written to you about.

I would also like to state that I've spoken to Mr. Fleager before about my general concerns, when he was Community Services Director. I do not see how it would accomplish anything meaningful to have you ask him to contact me again, whether he is too busy to do so (as was evidently the case after my last e-mail) or not. No disrespect is intended to Mr. Fleager, who I understand to be a professional and conscientious public servant, but I think the solution (or set of solutions) are already at hand, should the city choose (and it is a conscious choice for it to make) to do so and any discussion between him and me would not be the best use of his time nor mine.

Carbon Canyon Road needs at least occasional patrolling. In the last two major incidents, three patrol cars responded. Could not one of these, at least on a semi-regular basis, be assigned to patrol the roadway on evenings and, especially, weekend evenings? Wouldn't the cost of somewhat consistent patrolling be far less to taxpayers than a full emergency response several times a year or wouldn't the attempt to mitigate to the greatest extent possible dangerous driving behaviors on the highway be a worthwhile investment? Doesn't the thought of a young man arrested for DUI who could easily have injured or killed an innocent person concern you as officials responsible for the most important role of government: protection and preservation of life and property?


Choleesa said...

There was a motorcycle accident around Sleepy Hollow yesterday around 3. Do you know what happened?
I would like to hear that the guy was ok.

Paul said...

Hi Choleesa, no, I didn't hear about the motorcycle accident, though I was at home during that time. Maybe it'll be in the local paper on Saturday? Thanks for the comment.

Anonymous said...

I live in Sleepy Hollow and wish Carbon Canyon were a toll road with a special resident access pass given to those who live inside Carbon Canyon and very close to it, though I know that will never happen (and probably couldn't, at least practically).

I absolutely do not want more traffic enforcement inside Carbon Canyon Road, since police officers would most likely target people who drive over the speed limit more than any other group. I've found that the worst and most dangerous drivers are usually not those who drive over the speed limit, but those who drive timidly and apply their breaks at most of the curves. This foolish breaking combined with the many drivers who are bound to tailgate such vehicles is most certainly an accident risk. Even without tailgating, breaking at curves may cause one to lose control of his or her vehicle. Hence I wonder how many of these accidents throughout the canyon that you write about are caused by timid drivers breaking and sharply turning the wheel once the car starts to lose control, and not excessive speed or intoxication like you assume.

Furthermore complaints of drivers going too fast through the canyon are what lead to absurd reductions in speed limits (which we saw on the Chino Hills side of Carbon Canyon Road several months ago, though luckily the speed limit was soon raised), and an excuse for more speed traps. Hell, complaints about drivers driving too fast probably contributed to that unfortunate traffic signal installation at Olinda Village and the mobile home park, which I pray will not worsen traffic too much.

In regard to drunk drivers, officers already heavily patrol around Shamrock's in Chino Hills and The Shady Nook in Brea, which are the nearest bars to Sleepy Hollow. Sometimes I see a patrol car sitting at Olinda Village, and have often seen patrol cars between the hours of 11:00 pm and 2:00 am near the eastbound entrance to Carbon Canyon Road. I wouldn't object to officers patroling the entrance to the westbound side of Carbon Canyon more than they do, but don't want a police presence inside the canyon. After all, even with a patrol car's flashing lights it may be hard to see a pulled over vehicle inside the winding canyon, which would pose a safety issue.