louis martin
cns news & features

Mendocino County--

Given a chain saw, man or woman usually prevails over a tree. But the opposite is the case in a vehicle collision. The tree barely notices the bump; man or woman is lucky if he or she survives.

In three recent collisions in Mendocino county--all within a short distance of each other--men and women have been lucky. But all three have required a helicopter--adding a thousand dollars to the eventual medical bill--to even up the odds.

The latest accident occurred Monday afternoon near Highway 1 and Navarro Ridge Road. A car with 5 passengers plowed into a tree. The score? Two major injuries requiring helicopter evacuation. And low coastal fog did not make it easy.

A few miles south in Elk, Terry Smith slammed into a tree and turned over her car on Saturday night. She, too, required helicopter evacuation--and 70 stitchs.

Her husband Kevin Smith was originally thought to have been in the vehicle. Rescue workers, who knew Smith, searched for him nervously until he was located at home.

And Sunday before last, Trinidad Gonzales, 29, of Point Arena was driving down Greenwood Road towards Elk when, due to excessive speed, he lost control on a curve. He, too, hit a tree. A friend of Gonzales traveling in back of him stopped, then sped off into town to get help. But the friend also lost control of his car and plowed off the road. Rescue workers said alcohol was involved in both wrecks. The friend, only slightly injured, walked to town and called 911.

Originally it was thought that Gonzales was dead.

But Gonzales was lucky. He was evacuated by helicopter with a broken jaw, hand, and ribs.

Chain saws generally prevail over trees. But on Monday, while the two motorist were being evacuated from Albion, a logger was pinned between two trees near the North Spur Train landing up around Willits. He was lucky too. It was his leg that was pinned, not his torso. But if he feels lucky, it probably won't be for a week or so.



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