Locals witness, assist in fatal 395 accident

Locals  witness,  assist in  fatal 395  accidentBy BRIAN COSNER

News Review Staff Writer

“There’s a 90-mile stretch of Highway 395 that’s scarier to Ridgecrest-Inyokern residents than any horror flick ever made.”

Valley residents were reminded of these harrowing words from a 2006 Bakersfield Californian editorial after a July 17 accident on that roadway claimed the life of 19-year-old Gabriel Duran of Adelanto.

According to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office press release, Duran was traveling north on the highway while a second party, a family of five, was traveling south when one of the vehicles crossed the center line for unknown reasons. Duran, the sole occupant of his vehicle, was killed in the resulting head-on collision while four members in the other vehicle received major injuries and were airlifted to various trauma centers.

Highway 395 carries tens of thousands of vehicles each day and has garnered much infamy across the state as it has racked up more than 2,000 accidents and 150 deaths over a 15-year span. More than a dozen lives were claimed from accidents in 2016 alone, with 150 injured. The tragic accident was a shocking experience for the car full of Ridgecrest residents that was returning from Ontario Airport that evening, just a few cars behind the wreckage.

A local resident, who prefers to remain anonymous, was one of the first to arrive at the scene of the accident with her two children, who immediately rushed from the car to help the victims.

Among the victims they found two young girls, a father and a grandmother – all with serious injuries – and a mother who was miraculously unharmed.

“My daughter spent most of her time sitting in the dirt with the youngest girl’s head held between her hands, talking to her in order to keep her awake and making sure she didn’t move too much,” said the resident. “There was also a nurse on her way to work who spent all her time with the second girl who seemed to have serious internal injuries. My son got the other passengers out and worked alongside a couple of other guys trying to get the dad, who was driving, out of the vehicle.”

The resident has since been in touch with the victims’ family and reported that following the accident, all four required several surgeries. “Please pray for them and their recovery,” she said. “Please pray for the family of the young man who died. I cannot begin to fathom the pain these families are going through.

“I must confess – when my kids took off out of the car and toward the accident without a second thought while vehicles were still moving and car parts were still flying, and I saw them in action – I believe that God placed us there for that time. There was no hesitation, no squeamishness, just pure purpose. It made me proud of them.”

Story First Published: 2017-07-28