Idyllwild’s first major snowstorm of the season resulted in many fender benders and two serious collisions. Said California Highway Patrol Public Information Officer Darren Meyer of the week, both on and off the Hill, “We were so busy we had everybody [all CHP officers] out on the roads.”
Meyer noted that non-serious fender benders where drivers did not appear to be at fault were not recorded and drivers were not cited. “We’re there to assist because of road conditions when drivers are not at fault,” he said. But he noted drivers, in ice and snow, are always responsible for the “safe operation” of their vehicles.
Two collisions illustrate Meyer’s point. At 4:45 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 6, Debra Gibson, 52 of Idyllwild, was driving her 2002 silver Dodge Dakota truck south on Highway 243, one-tenth of a mile south of Pine Cove Road, when she encountered snow and ice on the road and slid into the opposing lane of traffic. She collided head-on with a 2002 silver Hyundai Elantra driven by Joseph Reyes, 22, of Redlands.
Meyer said Gibson was found to be at fault because she was driving at an unsafe speed for road conditions. At the time of the incident, Gibson said she had been driving at around 30 mph. Meyer explained that CHP could not verify her speed but that even if Gibson had been driving at 30 mph, that could still have been too fast for road conditions. He said the report showed that Gibson’s tires were not chained and Reyes’ were. “There was significant damage to both vehicles but neither party required medical treatment,” he said.
At 7:30 a.m. Friday, Jan. 8, Christopher Apperson, 34, of Pine Cove, was driving his maroon 2014 Subaru Crosstrek south on Highway 243, 50 feet north of Saunders Meadow Road in snow and ice condition when he came to a curve, lost control and crossed over into the opposing lane of traffic. He collided head-on with a Ford pickup towing a Big Tex utility trailer driven by Jose Rivas, 41, of Hemet.
Apperson was cited and found to be at fault, according to the CHP report. Apperson said he was driving at around 25 mph at the time of the incident. Meyer again noted, “Everyone is responsible for the safe operation of their vehicle.” He said the report did not specify if either vehicle had chains.