Heading up canyon into the narrow S-curve just below the Totem Market, the last thing any motorist wants or expects to see is another vehicle heading westbound in the eastbound lane. Even with time to react, to avoid a collision would be almost impossible.
That predictable collision occurred on Friday, Dec. 19, when a rented 2014 Ford Focus driven by Melvin Cheah collided with Donna Johnson, a National Park Service employee driving a government-owned 2012 Chevy Colorado.
According to a witness at the scene, Cheah, 24, from Washington, was driving in the westbound lane when his vehicle collided head-on with Johnson’s vehicle being driven in the eastbound lane. Johnson said she was returning to Ash Mountain headquarters.
Both vehicles sustained major damage and had to be towed from the scene. A passenger in Cheah’s car complained of pain and was transported to Kaweah Delta Medical Center in Visalia.
Cheah told officers when he was turned around at the Ash Mountain entrance to Sequoia National Park, he became disoriented and assumed he was driving on the correct side of the road. At the scene, he said he had recently driven in a country where driving on the left side of the road was the law.
The investigating CHP officer determined Cheah to be at fault and responsible for the accident. Judging by the damage to the vehicles, it was a Christmas miracle that no one was more seriously hurt.