Friday, January 27, 2023

MendoThrowback: Three Men Survive After Car Careens Off Orr Springs Road


Combing newspaper archives, MendoFever will work hard to provide a MendoThrowback every day of the calendar year to remind residents of days long gone. 

[Newspaper Clipping from the Redwood Journal Press Dispatch 2/1/1954 issue]

68 years ago the front-page story of the Redwood Journal Press Dispatch showed a behemoth of a vehicle crunched from a collision after careening off the perpetually-dangerous Orr Springs Road.

27-year-old Calpella man Ernest Smith was driving the “late model car” on Orr Springs Road with two passengers along for the ride, 40-year-old Pottery Valley man Sam Johnson and Ukiah man James Vanta. The trio “plunged 200 feet down the steep embankment” after an oncoming vehicle had blinded them with their headlights.

As the vehicle descended, the men reportedly began “bouncing around like a dice in a cup” and Smith, the driver, ended up being thrown from the vehicle.

Thankfully, the accident only resulted in minor injuries consisting of small cuts and bruising.


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Matt LaFever
Matt LaFever
I like to think of myself as a journalist for the everyman. Journalism has become a craft practiced largely by the urban elite. It’s time to take it back. I have been an Emerald Triangle resident since 2006 and this is year ten in Mendocino County. Please, email me at if you know a story that needs to be told.

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