A crash early in the morning woke up Michelle Goertz and her dog, leaving them confused and searching the dark for answers. And an hour after the initial disruption and a few minutes scanning the early-morning landscape only to find nothing, Goertz, an Agua Dulce resident of 12 years, would find an answer to the mystery, but be the least surprised of all those slowly congregating at the scene.
According to Goertz, the source of the noise and reason for the growing procession of neighbors and law enforcement officials in her yard was an adult male driver in his early 20’s who had been driving southbound on the 9700 block of Soledad Canyon Road.
“(And at around 5:15 a.m.), the guy was heading to work, driving a Volkswagen sedan, took the curve too fast, collided into the bushes, (went) through the wrought iron fence (and) hit a couple trees (in Goertz’s yard),” said Officer Josh Greengard of the California Highway Patrol Newhall Office. “Minor injuries were sustained by the male driver.”
Goertz said it wasn’t until a neighbor, who had been the first one to spot the car, called her at 6 a.m. and told her they that she could see vehicle wreckage in the family’s yard.
“I didn’t really know what had happened, until Highway Patrol pulled up and told me he’d been stuck in his car for over an hour (in 25 degree temperatures),” Goertz said. “He told the officers later that he thinks he blacked out before the accident happened, and didn’t know what had exactly transpired to wind up with him in my front yard,” said Goertz.
The report filed by the homeowners after the incident reads that the unnamed driver took out shrubs, a 20-foot section of fence and wrought iron gate, clipped one mimosa tree and completely took out another.
“He was 2 inches off from hitting the power pole that supplies our entire canyon,” Goertz added.
And although the homeowners said they found a medical marijuana dispensary container on the lawn after the car had been towed away and the scene was cleared, Goertz said CHP officers did not arrest the driver for driving recklessly or under the influence, but she wasn’t too upset about that aspect of the incident.
“The investigating officer thought he may have fallen asleep, but that can’t be determined,” Greengard said.
“It was 25 degrees outside and he was trapped in that car for a long time. I think he served his penance,” said Goertz.
Goertz said she doesn’t want the near-disastrous nature of this incident to detract from the real issue which, she says, is the prevalence of this traffic collisions in her neighborhood.
“This is a constant problem for us because Soledad Canyon Road and Sierra Highway are either used by commuters as an alternative route to Highway 14, or they think it’s the Indy 500 because the houses are few and far between,” said Goertz. “People perhaps don’t think it’s a residential neighborhood and don’t realize that children and families live in these homes.”
Acton/Agua Dulce neighbors who live in the area have reportedly seen everything from fatalities, to DUI’s, to speeders, to rollovers to property damage because of the traffic.
“My parents live on Sierra Highway, and their fence has been taken out multiple times,” Shilo Eddings-Dodson said.
“People drive the canyon like it is a freeway (and) it’s crazy,” said resident Gary Sickler. “We have had at least a dozen rollover accidents right in front of our house. If we did not have a little embankment in front, they would have been in my yard.”
In recent months, the neighborhood has become more proactive in its approach to the problem, and residents have been working more closely with CHP and Palmdale Sheriff’s Station officials to file reports more quickly and regularly, and form neighborhood watch groups to communicate with one another. But Goertz says it’s not enough.
“We’ve had meetings with sheriffs and Highway Patrol on Soledad and Sierra Highway to try and get more of a police presence out here,” said Goertz. “But, I mean, they did patrol a week ago, even with their (speed traps) set up they clocked someone with a top speed of 95 miles per hour in a 55 zone.”
Neighbors have said that this is just another example of why their requests to law enforcement have been justified.
“Ideally we want more patrols to regulate speeders, and secondly we’d like more general patrols in the Acton/Agua Dulce to prevent crime,” said Goertz. “We just want to make sure that dangerous driving and crime doesn’t start to sprout and seed out here.”
Greengard did not announce if law enforcement agencies would be taking any additional measures to patrol the area following Saturday’s crash, but reassured people that officers take the instances seriously.
“We can’t be everywhere at once,” Greengard said. “But we’ll (continue) to patrol the canyon roads every day.”