BASS LAKE – What was already a terrible accident could have turned into a tragedy, had it not been for the keen eyes and smart decision of two Bass Lake Water Company employees.
Eric Shearer and Shanti Rogers were on duty for the water company this morning, Jan. 15, headed down Road 274 near Bass Lake.
As they neared the bridge over Willow Creek, which they cross many times a day during the course of their work, they noticed some skid marks in the recently sanded road, ending at the shoulder of the road.
The two men went back to the spot to investigate, and looking over the very steep embankment, they saw a silver 1998 Ford Contour resting on its driver’s side, the contents of the car strewn all around the vehicle.
They also saw Shari Delp, resident of Oakhurst, and Indian Ed Tutor at Mountain Oaks High School, sitting in the detritus next to the car. It was not clear to them whether she had managed to climb out of the vehicle, or had been thrown clear during the crash.
They scrambled down the steep hill, and found that Delp had a very large contusion on her head, and blood on her cut hands. They called 911 and waited for emergency personnel to arrive.
“We didn’t want to move her,” said Shearer. “She was sitting there in the broken glass, so we just stayed with her. The CHP and paramedics were here within five minutes.”
Both men said Delp seemed to be rather dazed. “She didn’t know what date it was, but she did know her name,” they said.
Delp had been traveling eastbound on Road 274 at about 1 p.m. when she apparently took the corner at the bridge at too high a rate of speed, then over-corrected and slid back across the road and over the embankment.
The road had been recently sanded due to icy conditions the past few days, and the marks left in the sand by her tires were the clues that directed Shearer and Rogers to the wreck.
The car would most likely have ended up in the icy water and the huge boulders of Willow Creek, had it not slid straight into a tree, which stopped it’s descent. It also would not have been seen by anyone driving by, so the fact the Shearer and Rogers noticed the marks in the road, and went back to check could certainly have kept this story from having a very bad ending.
Delp was transported by Sierra Ambulance to a Skylife helicopter, which had landed in a cul-de-sac at the Bass Lake Mini Storage property about a mile away. She was flown to the trauma center at Regional Medical Center in Fresno.
Bass Lake Engine #14, Oakhurst Engine #12, Cedar Valley Engine #18, CHP and Sierra Ambulance responded to the scene, along with Doc’s Towing.