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September 25
1970 - Lagasse family helps save Mentryville buildings as Newhall and Malibu brush fires erupt & join into worst fire in SoCal history. Twelve fires over 10 days burn 525,000 acres, kill 13 people and destroy approx. 1,500 structures. [story]


| Wednesday, Jan 11, 2012

People gather Wednesday morning at the site of the crash that killed Dakota Demott, 19.

Red the original story about Tuesday night’s collision here => http://scvnews.com/?p=24512

 

The Demott family is grieving the loss of their 19-year old son, Dakota, after last night’s fatal collision on Sand Canyon Road at Alamo Canyon Drive.

Friends gather at the site to try and make sense of the tragedy. Another family prays for their son’s recovery from life-threatening injuries at a local hospital.

But there are other victims who must deal with the aftermath of an accident such as Tuesday night’s horrific crash.

Ken and Nancy Fisher own the house on the corner of Sand Canyon Road and Alamo Canyon Drive. It’s halfway between Soledad Canyon and Placerita Canyon, not too far from a curve and right on a straightaway.

Tuesday’s accident was the seventh crash in the couple’s 16 years of living on the corner and so far, had the worst outcome.

The posted speed limit at that part of Sand Canyon Road is 45 miles per hour. Sheriff’s officials said that the vehicle involved in the crash was traveling at a high rate of speed.

Ken Fisher was one of the first people at the scene. He saw the driver in the car convulsing and moaning, and the passenger who had been thrown out, the impact of his body knocking down Fisher’s front yard fence. As he attempted to render aid, he said cars sped by him as he screamed for them to stop.

The chaos resulting from the single-vehicle crash has put him and his family on the edge and they want something done about it. Even though they have a meeting set up with Mayor Laurie Ender and City Manager Ken Pulskamp, they’re not sure anything is going to change.

“Nobody should have to see dead bodies and broken people and broken cars,” he said. We just finished the last incident and now this has happened again.”

The last incident happened in September, when Nathan Wolitarsky, a promising shotputter from Canyon High headed for UCLA on a track scholarship, lost control of his car and plowed into the same tree hit by the car Tuesday night.

Fisher heard the crash and was first on the scene to help the young athlete. He put out a fire that started beneath Wolitarsky’s car and, after seeing the extent of his injuries, offered comfort until paramedics arrived.

The tree as it appeared Wednesday morning, with debris from Tuesday night's fatal collision

Wolitarsky was reportedly traveling upwards of 100 miles per hour. His injuries were severe, but he has survived and recently visited Fisher to thank him for saving his life.

“I told him that what he had done to himself, there were a thousand other ways we could have been introduced, but he involved us,” Fisher said. “If I helped, then (I asked him to) be an advocate, tell his friends and other people what happened to him. I know that he can’t reach everybody, but perhaps someone down the line would listen.”

Wolitarsky is using a walker now and has scars on his knees and face, reminding him of his close call. He’s due to start UCLA in September 2013.

Fisher said that he’s been knocking on the doors of anyone who will listen to get the speed limit changed or some sort of safety mitigation at that corner, but has only been rewarded with frustration.

“Nobody comes out of their houses,” he said. “And when they talk about changing the speed limit, people in the canyon don’t want it changed because it affects their lifestyle.”

Tests done after the Wolitarsky crash didn’t reveal anything wrong with the street itself. But city officials can’t be responsible for reckless drivers, especially young drivers who consider themselves invincible.

Fisher cited incidents of road rage, speeding motorcycles, drag racing and of course, speeding.

“The worst time is after the midnight hour,” he said. “I tell the sheriff about this repeatedly. I’m trying to get some statistics related to traffic accidents, because there are constantly sirens in this canyon.”

The first accident at that corner involved a car that went through the chain link fence, taking out 15 feet of fencing before fleeing. The next involved a van that went out of control and sheared off a fire hydrant right across the street, late at night.

The third happened in the middle of the day; the driver of a car making a left turn panicked, hitting the brakes and fishtailing, hitting Fisher’s tree.

An out-of-control Volvo left a deep gouge in the oak tree, along with a bumper and other vehicle debris before leaving without so much as a note.

Incident number five was preceded by sirens and helicopters; a car being pursued hit they hydrant, creating a geyser that rained down on all the deputies with their guns drawn.

Last night, Fisher was on the phone when he heard the sound of crunching and scraping of metal on pavement. Running out, he saw the carnage and was overwhelmed with a sense of helplessness, frustration and a passion to see things changed.

“I saw a cloud of dust, even though it was pitch black, and I called 911,” he recalled. “I was screaming to person on the other end that this happened before. I was out of my mind.”

The Fishers have raised three sons in the home at the corner of Sand and Alamo. He remembers worrying about their safety as they walked to the bus stop and says he continues to worry about them driving in the canyon. Above all, he worries about the people who continue to lose a grip on their common sense when they get behind the wheel on Sand Canyon.

“My oldest son’s getting married in our backyard in June. It’s going to be an evening wedding, so of course, I have concerns. Nothing seems to get done. Now we have death on our property. How we get past this, nobody knows.”

“This is a curve that goes right into a straightaway,” he continued. “It’s also a place where there’s a strip for cyclists and a walking horse trail. But it seems to be ungoverned and the issue swept under the carpet. How many people will have to die before anyone takes notice? I want a bigger voice.”

In the meantime, he and his wife are dealing with the debris left behind, which he likened to a war zone.

“There’s a dead man’s blood on the fence and ground, gloves, syringes, triage supplies they left behind. I understand that we have to give the families some space, but what about us? You have to think of the other side. We’re living a nightmare so soon after the other one. We know it’s going to happen again and again.”

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10 Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    Please have them consider putting speed bumps along the street. Even if the kids continue to speed it will force them to slow down as they go over them…It has helped immensely in other areas.

    • Anonymous says:

      I have to say that is in no way only kids speeding. Adults race up and down Sand Canyon way above the 45 mile per hour speed limit.

  2. Anonymous says:

    We don’t need to change the laws if the victim was not obeying them in the first place.

    • Ashley Clark says:

      f that yes they should follow the law but if there are other measures to be taken it should be done. u dont agree just so u dont have to deal with the hassel youre stupid it will help save lives u heartless soul. thats my best friends brother!

  3. Anonymous says:

    I have always wished the speed limit would be reduced to 35 miles per hour. Plus, if there were a couple of stop signs strategically placed so that drivers could not build up a lot of speed as they drove on Sand Canyon it might slow everyone down a bit.

  4. Michelle Lea says:

    I think stop signs and speed bumps should be place all along there. There is such a big span that these people can pick up speed, and yes its just not kids that are speeding its adults to. I feel for these two families, but I hope and pray that this kid has learned his lesson that he killed his friend by been so careless. Two many of these kids get their cars and think that they can show off. I pray for these families.

  5. Anonymous says:

    i was just driving through here this morning. and a BMW sped right past me doing about 65, some ignorant lady… tail gating some huge truck in front of her… learn to have some respect driving down that road, also the occasional Neil Armstrong Bikers, find a new place to hog the road, its only a 2 lane road… my dog almost died by trying to swerve out of the way of these ammature riders, he suffered major injuries. and they didnt even stop!!!

    speed bumps, reduced speed… whatever helps. and works. use catution… the road is filled with reckless drivers. slow down.

  6. mommywisdom says:

    I live in Canyon Country and go to Sand Canyon often for horseback riding in the area. It always shocked me the speed limit of 45mph in the area. It’s a residential area, with kids, horses, and lots of wild animals that cross the street. It’s an unique and beautiful area of Santa Clarita where wilderness blends harmoniously with residences – except for Sand Canyon highway speeding cars!!! I say absolutely reduce speed limit to at least 35mph on Sand Canyon, and place a sheriff’s car on to enforce the speed limit on a regular basis. Maybe if people drive slower they’ll learn to appreciate their surroundings more. Why drive so fast on Sand Canyon anyway?

  7. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Fishers for being angels to help others and a voice even when it seems no one is listening. Your story is one that I will not soon forget. I can’t imagine screaming out for help in the middle of the night and seeing this unfold before your eyes. It’s sad you are the ones to have to deal with cleaning up the mess left behind – I am shocked that you, the person who called for help – the person who had to see it all – has to deal with blood, gloves, triage supplies and syringes? For you to see this tragedy first hand then to have the responsibility to clean it up afterward while still in shock yourselves is just not right. Of course what is the very most tragic are the families who are dealing with the death of their loved one and the severe injuries of the other boy. I pray for them, their families and for you and your family to recover from such a horrific incident. I know if this happened on my property, I would most certainly be shaken, upset and disturbed. I hope there is an answer. Someone must do something – you have done more than your part. It’s time for the sheriff or city to take action and get those statistics gathered for changes NOW. The time has long come for change and at the expense of these boys lives.

  8. John Sires says:

    Speed bumps will slow all traffic including fire and police vehicles responding to the canyon’s emergency calls. These kids are yours and mine. We, as parents, have the responsibility to take action You can’t and shouldn’t legislate safety. It never works as planned.

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