Art Lloyd, TLC 2009, writes about a TLC Meeting held in Long Beach.
It was TLC at it’s best in Long Beach on Saturday. Mark Choate from Alaska, Jane Oatman from Fallbrook and her husband Mark (with the video equipment) Sonia Chaisson, Laura Horton, and Jay Smith all gave of their Saturday to come and help Joe and I try to find the story locked up by a language barrier (Chinese) with our clients. It was an inspiration to see everyone take their turns helping peel the layers of the language onion off and expose the humanity that binds us all.
The case involved four Chinese women from California who decided to drive across country to Virginia to start up a chair massage business (the legitimate kind). As they were driving in a rain storm past the Meteor Crater Road in northern Arizona, the driver decided to pull off to gas up and buy some lunch. The speed limit in the area was 75mph. The original highway plans called for a 45 mph speed limit sign at the entrance to the off ramp because there is a “transition curve” in the roadway. Transition curves are optical illusions in that they look like a very smooth, pretty curve, but the radius in the middle of the curve is narrower than on either side and it can trick a driver, causing them to run off the road. The 45 mph speed limit sign was there for sure until 1990 (the last time we have a picture of it) but after that, it disappeared and no one can explain why it was not replaced. In 2002 the exit ramp was repaved and the plans called for a tapered road edge so that if a driver got off the road, he could get back on easily. The tapered edge was not constructed but instead there is a vertical road edge drop that exceeds three inches in many places. The standard calls for no greater than a 2 inch drop off. After the 2002 project was completed, there have been 6 rollover wrecks in the curve including a fatal and three semi trucks that have run off the road and flipped when trying to re enter the roadway…..
As our driver takes the exit, she goes off the road, tries to get back on, but hits the road edge, the van trips and rolls several times. The driver’s sister sitting in the back seat is instantly killed when her head is crushed as the car rolls over her. Our client sitting in the front seat (with her belt on) is severely injured, in a coma for 18 days, brain surgery, and also has a broken back and ribs…the other client in the other back seat is ejected out the window, and breaks her back in three places, shatters her pelvis, breaks ribs and is cut pretty bad……..The state is the defendant and the defense is that is was 100% driver error, and if it wasn’t, then the plaintiffs have all healed up and are just fine.
The driver of the van that rolled and killed her sister was finally able to release the guilt and let the love come to the surface. She will be a powerful witness. The passenger who was thrown from the car as it rolled and broke her back, pelvis and ribs, finally started to let down her defensive guard. It will take more work, but I think she is starting to trust these white men who are only trying to help her….. Truly TLC at its best!