A guest grabs her coat, bundles up and heads toward your front door. The weather outside is nasty, cold and wet. It’s winter in Plumas County.
“Drive safely,” you tell your friend.
“I will,” she responds.
Drive safely … We utter those words so often that we probably don’t even think about what they really mean. Drive safely has become an obligatory parting gesture. We use it in place of “goodbye” or “take care.” But we shouldn’t. They really don’t really have the same meaning.
It is the time of year when driving the roads in Plumas County demands our full attention. Every year someone is killed in the treacherous Feather River Canyon or on one of our frozen highways.
With that thought in mind, Feather Publishing reporter Debra Moore began conducting interviews and gathering information last week for a story that is featured in today’s edition of Feather Publishing newspapers. Her story includes valuable advice and observations from veteran California Highway Patrol Officer James Stowe.
Moore’s husband, Mike Lusso, also chipped in by uncovering an amazing story published last month in the Klamath Falls, Ore., Herald and News. He read the story while visiting their family cabin in Oregon and brought the paper back to Quincy.
We read the story. It was powerful stuff.
So we called the Herald and News editor and received permission to publish the story in today’s paper. If you read it, we think you will get the same feeling we did. It’s a reporter’s first-person story about being trapped underwater in his truck after crashing on an icy road. Writer Colin Huber described in chilling detail what it feels like to be trapped and drowning.
Our safe-driving message didn’t need an exclamation point, but it got one anyway. As we were preparing our story for this week’s paper, the police radio scanner in our office came to life last Wednesday afternoon. A car with a young woman inside was upside down in Indian Creek off the side of Highway 89. After a week of heavy rain, Indian Creek was a raging river. Two days later, a man crashed his truck on the same stretch of road.
Thankfully, the 19-year-old woman and the 21-year-old man survived their crashes. They are both hospitalized with serious injuries. Their accidents should be a reminder to all of us. Driving here can be deadly — especially in the winter.
In the next few weeks our roads will likely change for the worse. Colder weather is on the way. And with it will come ice and snow.
We will be driving with the added distractions that happen during the holidays: shopping, parties, planning … We will have a lot on our minds, making it even harder to give driving our undivided attention.
But we have to.
So when someone says “drive safely” as you are headed out the door this holiday season, please take their advice literally.