O’NEALS – A motorcycle ride with friends and family on a beautiful spring day in the mountains ended with one rider being airlifted to the hospital.
Dennis Wayne Bristow, 63, of Tulare, was cruising the back roads from Chukchansi to Table Mountain with his two brothers and a group of friends, when his front wheel caught the dirt on the edge of Road 210 just south of Road 200, and he crashed through a fence.The accident happened at about 4:30 p.m. on Sunday Apr. 21 near Spring Valley School in O’Neals.
“He wasn’t going very fast,” said his brother Tommy Bristow. “After his tire caught some dirt on the corner, he seemed to have it under control, and then he just drove straight across the road. Didn’t even try to stop or turn.”
Tommy said that his brother has several medical issues, including diabetes and high blood pressure, and that he may have just blacked out.
After Bristow caught the right edge of the road, he crossed both lanes to the left side, crashed through a barbed wire fence and into a large rock.
Just after the accident happened, a couple from Dixon, also on motorcycles and taking the back roads in their travels from Lake Isabella to Mariposa, came upon the wreck.
Cheryl Ernst-Story, a nurse from UC Davis, “went into nurse mode,” as her husband put it, staying with Bristow and helping to keep him calm until EMS arrived.
“He was in and out at first,” said Ernst-Story. “He was conscious, but he didn’t know what day it was or even that he had been in an accident, but he did know his name.”
She also says he was bleeding from his nose and mouth and had numerous cuts and scrapes, which she judged to have been caused by the barbed wire.
Bristow was airlifted to Community Regional Medical Center by SkyLife air ambulance.
The crash took out about 50 feet of barbed wire fence along a pasture with cattle in it, so the owner was called out to do repairs.
Bill Jameson owns the land along Roads 210 and 211 down to the Four-Corners area, and when he arrived on scene with fencing tools, he said said this type of thing happens about 20 times a year. That would explain his look of resignation, and the fact that the bulls in the field didn’t even look up from their grazing when the helicopter landed.
Jameson says he gave the County an easement some 15 years ago to build a road straight down the middle of his property, and get rid of all these sharp curves. “They gave it back about two years ago,” he said.
Madera County Fire Engine #8 responded to the scene, along with Squad 10, Sierra Ambulance and five CHP units. The road was closed in both directions for about an hour while the scene was cleared.