There But For The Grace Of ..

I came across this incident in the papers and for some reason found it disturbing. It all started when a bozo, high on crystal meth, ran a four way stop sign on Skyline Boulevard in Millbrae. He then led the police on a chase down Interstate 280:

Boldt entered northbound I-280 at Millbrae Avenue and drove south at speeds of up to 110 mph in the northbound lanes, according to reports.

That's right - at 1:30 in the morning, he was going at 110 mph in the wrong lane. There was one lucky escape:

Upon entering the freeway Boldt's car struck 29-year-old Vincent Pascua's Toyota 4-Runner on the passenger side while driving in the slow lane of the freeway.

`I noticed these two bright lights coming toward me,` Pascua said in San Mateo County Superior Court. `They just kept coming closer.`

According to Pascua, the collision could not be prevented and Boldt continued to drive after he sideswiped Pascua's Toyota.

`It just happened. It happened too fast,` Pascua said. `Then it was gone.`

But Boldt's run ultimately ended with tragic consequences for his co-passenger and the other driver:

The 18-mile pursuit didn't cease until Boldt's vehicle rammed into 28-year-old Redwood City resident Girish Wadhwani's 2000 Toyota Corolla on the highway at 1:45 a.m.

Kleinheinz, who was reportedly not wearing a safety belt, crashed through the windshield onto the pavement and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Wadhwani, who suffered broken wrists, was stuck in his car until rescuers from the Palo Alto Fire Department extricated him.

A distant cousin of mine passed away in a front on collision under similar circumstances. This was in Flint, Michigan. She was sixteen years old. There was a difference though - she was the one driving on the wrong side of the road. Apparently, this was a mistake on her part as she'd just learned to drive. But the combination of events on I-280 coupled with the fact that it's a road I use frequently makes the whole thing pointlessly stupid, yet poignant. Instead of Wadhwani, it could've as easily been me on that highway. True, he escaped with his life. But I'm sure he'll be forced to go on disability - you can't type with broken wrists!

I don't particularly enjoy motoring in the Bay Area, particularly on 101. That's a road that's bristling with tension, especially on weekdays. I-280 is the only one that's bearable but, as we can see, not immune. On a related note, MC Masala writes about her experience on 101:

EVERY TIME I ride past the stretch of Highway 101 where it happened, I imagine it happening all over again. Traffic suddenly slowing down in front of me as I am merging. I brake too late.

It was my first accident. My only accident, since I haven't driven since.

The insurance company told me, almost apologetically, that it was 100 percent my fault. It's more like 200 percent.

I should have taken BART to visit my friend, instead of driving. But he didn't have a car to pick me up from BART. He would have needed to ask his friend to get me, and I wanted to spare him the inconvenience.

You can read more here.

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- November 8, 2005 9:27 PM // Bay Area