“Oh my gosh! We were going to get our morning scone and coffee at the French Corner Bakery, but there was a truck crashed into a car and right into the bakery! There were people there with blood on their faces! Oh, my gosh, it’s really scary! There was only one firetruck there, but others were coming so we left!” my friend exclaimed over the phone Saturday morning.
Figuring I’d put on my Cambrian newspaper hat and perhaps report some “real” news, I ran down to the scene.
Bless Kathe Tanner (who got there a bit after I did) and all other news reporters’ hearts, coming onto a scene of chaos and commotion and holding it together enough to get a story.
Especially in a small town, one never knows exactly how close they may be personally to a victim. Indeed, when my older son was considering studying to be an EMT years ago, a young lady with the ambulance crew said just that: “You never know if it’s going to be your friend or your brother — you’ve got to be braced for that!”
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Nevertheless, my Boy Scout preparedness kicked in, and I tried to be as nonintrusive as possible by asking questions, starting with a person in uniform who was standing still for all of five seconds. CHP Officer David Agredano told me five people were transported to the hospital, some with possibly severe injuries. My heart raced a bit.
Longtime barber Corky Miles (who gave my younger son his first haircut), was standing next to his truck with a crushed fender.
“We (friend, Barbara Brebs) were just coming into the parking lot, didn’t ever see him coming and WHAM! If I was a second further in, Barbara would have been hit!”
As it was, she bumped her head and was understandably a little shaken.
“I was standing right where the car came through, but one of the bakers grabbed me out of the way just in time before it hit me,” Jasmin Bucio told me. She and her husband, Carlos Savedra, who was by her side by that point, both grew up with my younger son.
I asked the quick-reacting baker what happened. “We thought it was an earthquake!” Emmanuel Cosme quietly told me.
Everyone was so quiet. I imagine they were in shock, as we all were just from seeing the aftermath.
Inching closer to a group of officers I’d seen across the street with the driver of the truck — a young man I’d seen for years; I know his mother and father. I eavesdropped.
“It doesn’t appear to be alcohol, but … can … take a look at him?”
Remarkably, the driver, Jeremy Preston, was able to stand and walk around. But what about the victims inside?
Across the street, I ran into plenty of people I knew — some of whom were even supposed to have been in there — who gave me some word. Local artist Ruth Armstrong, longtime friends; Mac VanDuzer, whose car took the brunt of the force through the wall; and Phil Taylor whose brother John was just coming up to our little group as we were talking.
“I was supposed to go there and meet them but went to help on a roundup!” Another friend who had been fatefully late arriving that morning told him he’d better call his brother.
A couple of phone calls later, it was discovered that miraculously the three people we knew did not have life-altering injuries. I’m not sure about the other two from out of town. I send them my best. I send all involved my best. From French Corner Bakery owner Miguel Viveros, and his family and employees to Linn’s Restaurant for offering to store perishable foodstuffs, all the contractors who came to shore up the business (with the car still inside until the building can be stabilized!) and the folks injured or otherwise traumatized by such a shocking event.
“And, you know, all the regulars who would normally be sitting right out along the wall there, every morning, for some reason … all just … left early today,” Jasmin noted.
I hope there will be blessings out of this. I hope we wake up to remember to be always alert and aware and, most of all, to be here in the now and appreciate every moment.
As for reporting news, I believe I’ll leave that to stalwarts like Kathe and stick to philosophy and such.