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In light of yet another single-car accident in our community, I had to pen this letter in hopes that the MCSO, CHP, and RV Tribal Police will do something to quell the epidemic levels of speeding and reckless driving that leads to numerous animal deaths, property damage and unsafe roadways. Additionally, now that it is getting hotter and drier, these types of accidents increase the potential for fires that could lead to catastrophic consequences for our community.
My plea is that law enforcement does more to prevent reckless and dangerous drivers from continuing to plague our roadways. Much like how our law enforcement community has ignored the issue of unregulated cannabis grows (throughout the County), they also egregiously miss the mark on regulating the concerning issue of speeding and reckless driving in our community. They also ignore the abandonment of vehicles, which are often burned for sport. The connection here is obvious: unregulated growers, who ignore the rules protecting the community and the environment from unchecked and unsafe development are without a doubt the same people incapable of driving appropriately in this community and who abandon vehicles and trash wherever they please. Our roads are narrow and beat up from years of neglect and overuse. There are numerous deep ditches that are overgrown and provide cover for animals that are sadly killed in droves by the multitude of people speeding along our country roads. These same overgrown ditches are also full of fuel and can easily support a fire that can spread rapidly under the right conditions.
This morning, someone rolled their car at the bottom of my family’s homestead. This “accident” which could only be caused by excessive speed, could have been disastrous in many more ways than just a serious injury (or worse) for the driver of the vehicle. An oncoming car could have been involved (there is a nearly blind curve within 100’ of the accident) or the car might have burst into flames, which in turn would cause a serious fire that would impact not only our home but several neighbors’ as well. While I do not know the details of the accident, I can say that it is tiresome to have this community overrun with irresponsible drivers and to see that very little is done about it.
Just a week ago, I called the Tribal Police to intervene when I saw two people riding Four-Wheelers on the public roads. They had no helmets and were carrying a 3 or 4-year-old child. I witnessed this incident very near to where the latest accident occurred. I was rounding a blind turn and, in the middle of the road, one of the Four-Wheeler operators was heading toward me, in my lane. Thankfully I was able to avoid her. I had already seen these same people in town the day before (with the child on the front of one of the vehicles) and those two incidents prompted me to call the Tribal Police, who assured me they would intervene. However, on my way back home I encountered them again, in nearly the same place, with the child still on the front of the machine (now going in the opposite direction). I was driving much slower as I was still upset from my earlier near miss. I felt that what I was witnessing was an indication of a lack of follow-through in our community by our public safety officials. I called to protect this child from what was clearly a dangerous situation. I was told it was a priority and yet nothing was done per usual.
Today I write in disgust as I see another person total their vehicle and my heart sinks knowing that they will probably walk away from this event shamed, but without learning how detrimental their actions could have been. It is time for this County to step up enforcement and hold people accountable for the damage they are doing to our communities.
Here are some examples of the reprehensible system we have. About 6 years ago, my friend’s wife was T-boned by a seasonal cannabis worker when she was trying to make a left turn into her home on Highway 162. The CHP took a report and did nothing to the uninsured driver who T-boned this woman, whose baby was also in the rear seat. They had to buy a new car themselves. On another occasion, my mother was T-boned as she drove away from the Covelo Farmer’s Market. The driver, who had a child in the car, tried to say it was my mother’s fault, but witnesses saw the driver speeding around town before he T-boned her as she drove slowly through a 4-way intersection. My mother was injured in this crash but there were no charges brought against the incompetent and lying driver.
In sum, our community has to endure many challenging issues and we need our law enforcement officials to step up and create a safer environment for us. There are myriad examples of how perilous Covelo’s roadways have become. It is no laughing matter how risky it is to drive, walk, run or ride a bike in this community when there is no consequence for the dangerous drivers who continue to make our streets and roads unreasonably perilous.
Rio, A Concerned Citizen in Covelo