Enough is Enough! That is the battle cry circulating around Topaz Ranch Estates after a rear-end collision killed a 34-year-resident, Darrell Daugherty, on May 26. "It is time to have some safety measures put in place," residents are saying, and they are voicing their opinion strongly in a petition that is being circulated in this small rural community in southern Douglas County.
Since 2003 there has been three fatal accidents on the stretch of highway between the Holbrook Junction on Highway 208 and Albite Road.
May 21, 2003, two BMW's collided head on between Pearl Road and Albite Road, killing Lynette Sue (Lyni-Pooh) Huddleston-Ramsey, age 39, mother of two children, David and Brandyce. She had been going home after visiting her parents, Pat and Tom Mainz, leaving them just minutes before the accident occurred.
May 23, 2004, barely a year later, 19-year-old Debbie Nelson was traveling down Highway 208 with her brother, 17-year-old Justin Nelson, when the dogs they had in the vehicle distracted her attention, causing her to swerve and loose control of her vehicle. A roll over accident occurred between Pearl and Albite, killing her brother, Justin.
May 26, 2006, Darrell Daugherty, 90, returning from a day of having lunch with his daughter in Carson City and grocery shopping at Albertson's in south Carson City, tried to make a left turn onto Albite Road and was rear ended, killing him instantly in the crash.
There have been other accidents, not resulting in fatality, but the reality is, Highway 208 has become a very dangerous highway to travel.
The road is straight, the visibility is miles and yet TRE residents all agree, traveling the first eight miles of Highway 208 takes vigilance. Four major access roads enter Highway 208 from the community of Topaz Ranch Estates in a span of about four miles and several new ones have been added on both sides of the highway in the last couple of years. Pearl Road, the first entrance to Topaz Ranch Road, Albite Road and the other end of Topaz Ranch Road where it re-enters Highway 208, with two other small access roads, all intersect with Highway 208 within a short distance. Speed is a factor, even though the posted speed is 55 mph, the open visibility of the highway is deceiving. Once past the blind curve between Pearl Road and the first turn off on Topaz Ranch Road, motorists take the long straight stretch of highway as an opportunity to get to their destinations faster.
The community is growing, the only south access from Douglas County to Wellington and the Smith Valley, which is also growing rapidly and the possibility of the Sleeping Elephant Ranch becoming a big housing development within the next 10 years. This makes Highway 208 a target for scrutiny and investigation for highway safety and the hazards already in place.
The residents of Topaz Ranch Estates want to see a change and they are voicing their opinion. According to Ole Chavez, head or maintenance and roads for the TREGID, almost 300 residents have signed a petition requesting safer conditions on Highway 208, but more are needed. Petition locations are at Nevada Trading Post/Topaz Joe's, Reflection's II, and the TRE Water Company. Signatures are requested to help make Highway 208 a safer road to travel. For more information on petition locations contact Chavez at 266-3212.
n Jonni Hill is a Topaz Ranch Estates resident and writer for The Record-Courier.