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Vail Daily letters to the editor

Right before my eyes Have you ever had your life flash before your eyes? Last Saturday night around 4:45, I was driving home between Eagle and Gypsum when a semi truck passed me on that last big bend in the highway. It was the last descent in the road before the Gypsum exit, and the bend in the highway is pretty hairy. It’s even marked. It was snowing pretty hard, those big wet flakes, and there was lots of slush on the road. In fact, I hydroplaned a couple of times in the four miles from the Eagle exit to the scene of the wreck that raised my heart rate and made me pay intense attention to my driving and speed. Suddenly, I noticed a semitrailer tractor rig in my rear-view mirror in the left lane just as I was entering the sharp bend in the road. He was moving along at quite a clip and going to make a pass. As he passed me, his wake practically pushed me off the road to the right. The slush splattering on my windshield must have lasted for 15 seconds, an eternity it seemed, and was so loud I couldn’t believe it. After a couple of “Holy s#%@s” and “Jesus ch&%#ts,” he was past me. Then, suddenly, the truck began to hydroplane and jackknife right in front of me. In my mind, I was saying, “Oh my God.” Being an experienced mountain driver, I knew the worst thing a motorist can do in a situation like this is to slam on the brakes and/or jerk my wheel to get out of the way. I was pretty helpless, as the rear end of the trailer, probably 40 or 50 feet long, hit the guardrail and exploded it like tooth picks and sent debris everywhere. Then it seemed in slow motion that the trailer began to tip over, taking the cab with it onto its left side. I couldn’t believe my eyes. “This isn’t happening,” I kept thinking, but it was. He took out probably 50 yards of the guardrail timbers and all, sending 40-foot sections of wrinkled metal guardrail flying in the air and landing in front of me and to my left, almost striking my truck as I slithered past. We were still travelling around 60 mph. The truck was sliding on its side across the pavement, and I just narrowly escaped on the right shoulder. He must have slid 100 yards or more before he came to a stop right smack dab in the middle of the highway. Watching that huge truck flip over on its side right in front of me and seeing the guardrail exploding as the tail end raked up against it was one of the most awesome things I’ve ever witnessed, as tragic as it was. After all, it wasn’t a Hollywood stunt. It was the real thing. Immediately passing the truck and in the clear, I was dialing 911. Several cars behind me stopped, as well, and miraculously no one smashed into anyone else, me or the truck. We were among the first people on the scene. One guy was climbing on the cab and looking in the passenger side window to see if the driver was OK. He wasn’t. He was barely conscious and very disoriented. At one point, he cried out in what seemed like total agony. It was bone chilling. One of the bystanders wanted to bust open the windshield and get him out. Having been through EMT training many years ago, I knew that was not a good idea, so I stopped him. “That’s the job for the paramedics who are on their way,” I told him. Once the fire department arrived, they had him out very quickly. I was impressed as how quickly they executed the extraction. As it turned out, he was hauling what appeared to be a full load of Sprite soda pop in glass bottles, and they were everywhere. Cases of broken glass everywhere. It was a total disaster. Apparently, he had some serious injuries, but to what extent, I do not know. After filling out a witness report, I left the scene and headed home, thinking, “Thank you, Lord, for getting me through that horrific incident unscathed.” Edward B. Wallace Lives are at riskCarbon monoxide is dangerous. Therefore, I expected the town of Vail to take action when a well-documented carbon monoxide concern was raised.After careful research, I reported concerns regarding an improperly designed re-venting project that involved all of the boiler and water heaters in a Vail Village condominium building I have worked in as a general contractor for many years. The town of Vail is reluctant to admit and correct the mistake they made in approving the re-venting project – so people’s lives remain at risk.Wow! What a sense of community responsibility!Rich Brown Eagle-VailThat was over the topIn response to Tim Moffet, of Vail, just because I don’t agree with Fidel Castro or Hugo Chavez does not mean that I dislike Latin Americans.For you to say “you want the black guy to quit being our president, so just say so” is ridiculous.If someone disagrees with you and/or a liberal, then it is because they are racist? Unbelievable!Mary Smith DallasWhat are his priorities?President Obama has decided not to approve the Keystone Pipeline from Canada to Texas. This project would have created an estimated 20,000 jobs. It also would have reduced our dependence on foreign oil, as well as reduced the price of gas. But even though the three-year environmental study found no serious issues, our president has axed the project. However, he gave over $500 million of our taxpayer dollars to Solyndra that will never be recovered. Really?Kay Caspersen VailMust be a Dem trickThe majority of the evangelical Republican Bible-toting, gun-bearing voters of South Carolina (onward Christian soldiers?) apparently managed to join ranks and have cobbled together their own version of the ABM treaty (Anybody But Mitt).At a stroke, the elevation of the tough-talking gunslinger in the black hat, Newt Gingrich, has moved the center of force several more yards down the field and further to the right. But only time and the campaign trail will reveal if this unholy coalition holds together, gives Newt the nomination and carries him over the goal line. Great play! Could we please hear a few loud cheers from the House Ethics Committee and Newt’s former wives and girlfriends? Meanwhile, the handsome sheriff in the white hat, Mitt Romney, always the soft-spoken gentleman, has promised to play nice and stated that he will make his personal tax returns public for all to peruse. Will this package include reference to income from any accounts that may be stashed away in banks in the Cayman Islands, Mitt? Now that Gov. Perry has gone back to Texas with his tail between his legs like a whipped pointer and Santorum (I swear he is a Dan Quayle double) and that nice old senior citizen Ron Paul are clearly dragging ass, it looks as though it will be kickboxing at its best, right down to the wire, as Gingrich and Romney slug it out for the title.Funny, but from a distance, it seems to me that the playbook the Republicans appear to be using in this critically important game obviously must be a devious and malicious plant by the shady Democrats in order to guarantee that Barack Obama will win the November election, no matter who the Republicans choose to field. If the Republican team wishes to take back the White House someday, perhaps they should consider looking for a new owner.Peter Bergh EdwardsMore safety thoughtsI would like to add to Steve Spessard’s comments on mountain safety on Jan. 23: I agree with everything he suggested and suggest that all ski instructors, ski patrol and Yellow Jackets carry the paint guns and use them daily. Names could be posted in the Vail Daily of passes removed for the season on the second page. Reckless skiers are a danger to us all, and their passes should be pulled for the rest of the year on the first offense. Warnings and ” tickets” make no difference to them.Parents: Discuss with your children every day before leaving for skiing where they can and cannot ski. This could help to prevent tragedy. The children of this area become expert skiers at such a young age. Additional guidance is needed as they develop their judgement skills.As a member of a mountain-rescue team over 20 years ago, it saddens me to read articles about unnecessary deaths and accidents. How many years is it going to take us to learn to yank the pass on the first offense?The Yellow Jackets, ski patrollers and ski instructors could all have radios, so they can communicate and catch the offenders during their runs. Keep the unbooked instructors on the mountains with a Yellow Jacket badge on the back of their jackets. We could also use those expensive cameras that are mounted for World Cup races to have evidence for those who need their passes yanked. Maybe we want to extend that for two years.Judy Nespeca Edwards


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