Friday, 9 a.m., Nov. 12, major luck saved our area from a calamity. The purpose of this letter, however, is to call for greater punishment for such incidents rather than a fine. To explain, a loaded unmarked gasoline truck and trailer was illegally heading down the long grade of Kanan-Dume road west of the first tunnel when the driver realized he wasn’t going to have brakes before he reached PCH. His brakes were overheating. He stopped about a mile west of the tunnel. He attempted a U-turn; his rig straddling the entire road, when a van coming down the grade around a curve crashed into the trailer. Luck came into play because the van crashed into the front wheels of the trailer, and not into the tank. Thus the pyre fueled by 12,000 gals of gasoline, brush fires in upper Ramirez and the adjacent slopes, and a meltdown of the road was avoided.
The driver was cited by the CHP for being on Kanan-Dume with a hazardous load. After repairs the truck drove back up to Mulholland where he turned left to Encinal Canyon, and then on down to PCH without his brakes failing! At PCH he turned west without stopping at 20 MPH. The CHP was there to ticket him.
For such disregard of life he gets two tickets. The truck should have been weighed and impounded (no doubt the driver was avoiding the scales on 101), his driver’s license suspended and the company heavily fined. Some kind of penalty for gross endangerment of life and land is in order.
These details were given me by the CHP officer handling the crash scene. I passed the scene minutes after it happened and did not know if the tank had been ruptured.