Recent Highway 395 deaths spark petition

Community mourns loss of Jack and Leslie Brown

By BRIAN COSNER, News Review Staff Writer

A petition to widen California Highway 395 is circulating on the web, sparked by the most recent deaths of two Ridgecrest residents after a head-on collision Thursday, March 29, just outside of Randsburg.

According to a press release from the California Highway Patrol Barstow Office, officers responded to the incident at around 7:30 a.m. Thursday and discovered Jack Brown, 70, and Leslie Brown, 62, who had sustained fatal injuries from the crash.

The driver of a Ford F-150, northbound, reportedly initiated an unsafe pass by crossing over a solid yellow line and collided with the Browns’ Toyota Sienna. Both vehicles swerved into the shoulder attempting to avoid a crash, and collided head on.

The driver of the Ford was later identified as William Courtney, 48, of Fullerton. Courtney was transported to Arrowhead Regional Medical Center for serious injuries.

The collision is still under investigation by the CHP, but alcohol or drugs are not believed to be a contributing factor. Anyone with information regarding the crash is asked to contact the CHP Barstow Office at 760-255-5900.

This latest accident makes at least nine who have perished on the section of Hwy. 395 stretching from Inyokern to Adelanto, dubbed “Blood Alley” by some news publications and law enforcement officials, just in the last six months.

The petition to widen the highway was created in October last year, but saw an uptick in activity following the latest tragedy.

Many of the signatories were friends and family members of the Browns. Other supporters lost loved ones from the local area in countless accidents over the last several decades.

“Being active at the scene of a fatal head-on collision and witnessing a ton of really close calls, I hate this road more than ever,” said a local resident. “I don’t usually sign petitions, but I’ll make an exception for this one.”

The petition ( is currently approaching its goal of 1,000 signatures.

Signees have posted dozens of comments regarding close calls or lost loved ones due to the highway’s dangerous passing conditions.

“I’ve lost many acquaintances on this highway because of impatient drivers. We need to be heard,” said one commenter.

“The last time I traveled 395, I had to move over two times because someone was passing in an unsafe manner,” said another.

“I lost my best friend to an irresponsible driver on this road,” said a Texas resident in her reason for signing. “It was a devastating experience. I miss her so much. Help stop the senseless accidents on 395, please.”

Story First Published: 2018-04-06