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Beware the Ides of October

 California A.D. 476 update:

After five years, I quit riding my rural tri-weekly rides and will confine them to the Sierra, as 14 days ago I was attacked and bitten by dogs on a major rural avenue—no licenses, no vaccinations, no leashes, and presumed owners had no English and no apparent worries over their unleashed pets—and am waiting patiently for the animal control officers to tell me the biters are still tied up and still healthy and that I don’t have to go through rabies shots. Time to accept these landscapes of my half-century remembrance are forever changed.

While driving back from postmodern Palo Alto on this week’s trip, I zoomed over Pacheco Pass and heard these two tragedies on radio as I entered our premodern Valley. I had been listening to Bay Area accounts of Joe Biden warning the NAACP about voter ID laws, the supposedly new poll tax, when more familiar valley radio news came on.

You see, in our environs the issue is not that residents should have to show driver’s licenses to vote, but rather whether they need to have licenses at all to drive—with tragically fatal results for anyone on foot or in a wheelchair unfortunate enough to be caught in their reckless paths. Here are two items I heard last Thursday; both show the indifference to driver’s licenses in the new California (emphases below added):

1) Construction worker killed in Highway 99 hit-and-run; driver arrested on DUI charges

Alleged hit-and-run driver faces charges including murder.

By Eddie Jimenez - The Fresno Bee

Wednesday, Jul. 11, 2012 | 07:11 AM

The hit-and-run driver who allegedly killed a construction worker on Highway 99 in Fresno early Wednesday is suspected of being intoxicated and was driving with a suspended license because of a prior DUI conviction, according to Fresno County jail booking records.

Alyssa Marie Villanueva, 26, of Fresno is accused of driving her car into a closed area to pass slower traffic about 2 a.m. as a construction crew was resurfacing a stretch of the northbound lanes of the highway near Clinton Avenue, the California Highway Patrol said.

Regan Johnson, 24, of Reedley died in the crash, the Fresno County Coroner's Office said.

Johnson's hit-and-run death has her co-workers mourning the loss of a young woman who was "a good employee and nice person," the company's owner said…

Villanueva was arrested late Wednesday morning after Fresno police received an anonymous call about a car matching the description of the one involved in the crash. Police and CHP officers found the car at an apartment complex on Ashlan Avenue just east of Valentine Avenue, less than a mile from the hit-and-run scene. CHP officer Sean Duncan said Villanueva lives at the complex.

He said she was driving alone in the 2007 dark gray Nissan Altima at the time of the crash.

Villanueva faces charges of murder, driving while intoxicated causing death, hit and run, and driving with a suspended license because of a prior DUI conviction, according to jail booking records.

Her bail is just over $1 million.

Her stepfather, Antonio Rios, 40, of Fresno, is accused of draping a cover over the car to try and conceal it, Duncan said. Rios was booked at the jail for the formal charge, resisting a police officer. He was later released.

Johnson, a traffic control specialist, was moving cones when she was hit, Telfer said. She was a seasonal worker for Windsor Fuel Co., which had contracted with Caltrans for the highway project. Windsor is a division of Telfer's company, based in Martinez in the Bay Area.

Johnson had worked for Windsor for the past two years, Telfer said. Her supervisor, Trevor Dormire, knew Johnson and her family, and hired her.

"It's particularly tragic for him," Telfer said…

2) Cutler man charged after fatal collision with man in wheelchair

By Jim Guy - The Fresno Bee

Thursday, Jul. 12, 2012 | 07:35 AM

A Cutler man faces charges of misdemeanor manslaughter after a fatal collision involving his SUV and a wheelchair in Orosi on Tuesday, the California Highway Patrol said.

The collision happened about 9:30 a.m. at the intersection of Highway 63 and Miller Avenue. The CHP said the 86-year-old victim was crossing Highway 63 from west to east in the wheelchair as Julio Dominguez, 52, of Cutler was northbound on the highway at a speed of 35 mph in a Jeep Cherokee. Dominguez apparently did not see the wheelchair until his 8-year-old grandson shouted, "Watch out!"

The CHP said Dominguez panicked and stepped on the accelerator instead of the brake and slammed into the wheelchair, throwing the victim, a resident of Orosi. The victim was taken to Community Regional Medical Center, where he died. The CHP said that Dominguez was also cited for driving without a license. 

Animae eorum et animae omnium fidelium defunctorum per Dei misericordiam requiescant in pace

And God help us all as the world out here struggles with a new uncertain age.

(Thumbnail image on PJM homepage assembled from multiple Shutterstock.com elements.)