The folks you can count on in an emergency
R-C Alpine Bureau
Snow pounded at the windshield and visibility was near zero. Reflective markers were the only thing that offered any hope of staying on the road. Flakes were so thick and heavy, the darkness of the night shrunk behind them. I rounded Bunkhouse Curve on Luther Pass, struggling to see. The road had not been plowed and it was icy and treacherous.
Heading down a slight slope I could just make out the hazy outline of a semi-truck approaching from the other direction. I watched as the monstrous shadow skidded out and slid across the highway, completely blocking the road. I was the first car and the dim glow of headlights were coming up quickly behind me. I prepared myself. Slowly putting on the brakes, I came to a stop. There was no where else to go. The snow was building up fast on the windshield, and in this motionless position it would be a short time before the wipers would do no good. Aware that death can come at any moment, I had made it my business to be prepared. I said my final prayers, convinced that this situation could have no other outcome.
The shallow lights behind me suddenly lurched around my vehicle. I could not imagine what the driver might be doing until I saw a red glow flashing from under the thick layer of snow on the roof. It was the California Highway Patrol. He pulled around in front of the semi, checked to see if the driver was safe, and then set about to clear a pathway along the shoulder of the roadway so traffic could get through. He motioned me through the narrow space.
What are the chances of an actual hero being right behind you and saving your life? Well, it actually happened, and I think of it all the time. That officer was an angel made manifest. Although I do not know his name, I offer him my deepest gratitude. If not for him, I would have missed so much. The remarkable thing is that in his life, it was just another day, and he was simply doing his job.
There are brave men and women that patrol our highways, who strive to protect us from ourselves. If you listen, you hear people complain about getting pulled over for speeding tickets, but it is really a wake-up call. Why are people driving so fast, drinking, or texting while they drive? What is truly important after all? CHP Officers are willing to risk their lives on hazardous roads and in dangerous conditions, dealing with the angry, the drunk and the belligerent. They take accident reports and watch the suffering that can occur when people aren’t paying attention.
The Communications Center in Truckee dispatches for officers working out of the South Lake Tahoe office in Alpine County. Officer Chuck Brothers has worked the area for the past 18 years and is deeply appreciated by the community. The local CHP officers assist with Eastern Alpine fire scenes, AMBER alerts, Search and Rescue operations, homeland security duties, public safety, and emergency preparedness. Brothers also helps Eastern Alpine Fire facilitate their community-based CPR classes. CHP helicopters completed 11 remote rescues or medical evacuations just this year in the mountains of Alpine. Our CHP officers are people-oriented, watching over not only their own families but everyone in the county.
On the steep byways of Alpine County accident scenes and incidents are highly challenging and complicated. We are fortunate to have dedicated individuals like Chuck Brothers willing to work to ensure our safety. Next time you see an officer, be sure to thank him or her. Their goal is to prevent injuries and deaths on the state’s roadways. They combat vehicle theft and provide mutual aid to other agencies. Local CHP officers probably stopped that drunk driver and got them off the road so they could not harm you or your family. Think about what our highways would be like without them.