Our truck was just inches from going over an embankment (l) Truck that hit us (r)
On December 19, 2003, Bruce and Deborah Jones were involved in a head-on accident on Highway 49 at Clivus Road in Grass Valley, just 3 miles from their home. This marked the beginning of a long and painful journey for both of them. Deborah suffered a fractured sternum, whiplash, a serious head injury, and many bumps and bruises. Bruce was sore and stiff for days, but his main injury was emotional trauma. Earlier that same morning, at 8:00 a.m., Bruce had retired from 30 years with the fire service. He was now thrust into the job of saving his own wife, then becoming her caregiver for months. The accident was followed by a long recovery period with countless doctor and physical therapy sessions.
Two years later, to the day: December 19, 2005, and only a few miles from their own accident scene, another horrendous head-on accident occurred. The collision was unfortunately one of many that happened that deadly year. But this accident was eerily similar to Bruce and Deborah's two years earlier: almost the same time of day, a white Chevy pickup truck, and young drivers crossing into head-on traffic over the yellow divider line.
"We were both sick when we heard the sirens and saw all of the emergency equipment speeding past us. We knew, we just knew it was bad. We had just been talking about our own accident and decided to go for a ride to get out of the house."
"We had no idea we would be right there on 49 and Combie to see everything flying by us. It was too much to take," Deborah remembers. "The next day when we read The Union and saw the article and a picture on the front page, we knew we had to do something."
Bruce came to Deborah and said, "We were spared for a reason, what can we do?" That is when Deborah picked up the phone and called Robyn Moormeister at The Union. "We informed Robyn that we were going to have a meeting addressing the safety issues of 49 (we didn't even know when or where. What were we thinking?) and could she help us. She immediately wrote an article about us and our plan for a meeting. This safety meeting dilema came to the attention of Supervisor Sue Horne who graciously took care of the problem. We now had Bear River High School for the meeting, and a date and time! Along with Robyn and help from Jim Ruffalo with The Auburn Journal, the meeting held on January 18, 2006 was a huge success with more than 300 concerned citizens attending along with California State and County officials from both Nevada and Placer Counties. Local television, radio, and news reporters also attended. Many of them informing the public days prior to the meeting.
Bruce and Deborah were also extremely fortunate before the meeting to have Chet Krage and Brad Weston join the group with their invaluable talents. The four then became the "Citizen's for Highway 49 Safety."
Chet ands his wife, Diane, are 31 year residents of South Nevada County. Chet is retired from a career in industrial production, engineering and business management in the power generation, pulp and paper, and food processing industries. As part of these roles, Chet had responsibility for personnel and process saftey in the workplace. Post retirement, Chet served 6 years as an appointed commisioner on the Nevada County Transportation Commission and 9 years on the Western Nevada County Transit Services Commision. In these roles he became intimately involved in the safety and congestion issues on Highway 49, and he resolved to do whatever possible to improve the safety performance on this stretch of highway. So, 11 years ago when the Jones' called and asked him to join them in their efforts, he eagerly said, "Yes"
Public Service Annoucement
Media Students from Sherry Reafsnyder's class at Bear River High School are hard at work producing a 30-minute video addressing Highway 49 issues. Interviews from local Highway Patrol, Fire Officials, and survivors of Highway 49 accidents are just a few of the subjects that will be covered. We are looking forward to seeing the finished product that will also be available for use in educating the public.
Posted: March 25, 2006
Bruce and Deborah Jones are available to speak to your group or school regarding safety issues and improvements planned for Highway 49. In an effort to promote Highway 49 safety, they have recently presented to local High Schools, Lion's Clubs, and SIRS groups in the area.
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