As traffic increases exponentially in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, so too will the vehicular accidents. There have been several in the past couple of weeks, including one fatality.
The highways through the two parks are narrow, curvy, and not meant to be driven at a high speed. Passing is never advised; what is advised, however, is that drivers who are going slower than the normal flow of traffic or the posted speed limit pull over into a turnout to let vehicles pass. This could very well ensure that an impatient driver does not attempt to pass, creating a dangerous situation for all involved.
There are times — even in a vehicle with automatic transmission — that drivers should manually downshift. When traveling downhill, it is important to use lower gears in lieu of brakes.
While many drivers of automatic vehicles may never before have needed to use these lower gears during their everyday driving, it is important to downshift to hold the vehicle back when descending the steep roads to avoid causing the brakes to overheat and become inoperable.
While driving slow may help avoid a traffic accident, it will also ensure that wildlife that enters the roadway, which is a common occurrence in the parks, is not endangered as a driver will have more time to apply the brakes and avoid colliding with a bear or other animal that could result in the death of the animal as well as injury or worse to the occupants of the car and damage to the vehicle.
Sequoia National Park
August 23— A 71-year-old female was feeling sick, vomiting, and shaking severely. After being evaluated by EMTs, she was transported by ambulance to Kaweah Delta Hospital.
August 25— A 70-year-old female fell at the Hospital Rock Picnic Area and injured her shoulder. She was evaluated by EMTs and transported to the hospital by ambulance.
August 27— Rangers, Tulare County Fire, Tulare County Sheriff’s Department, CAL FIRE, and California Highway Patrol responded to a vehicle that drove off the Generals Highway, the main road through Sequoia National Park, just below Amphitheater Point. The vehicle collided with a tree approximately 300 feet down the hillside. The driver, who was the subject of a BOLO (Be On the Look Out) report for someone who may be suicidal, was transported by ambulance to the hospital. The vehicle was towed out the following day.
August 27— Rangers responded to a vehicle that lost its brakes and went off the road near Potwisha Campground. One occupant was transported to the hospital by ambulance.
September 4— Rangers responded to 54-year-old male experiencing abdominal pain at Potwisha Campground. The patient was treated by a parkmedic and an EMT. The patient was transported by ambulance to the hospital.
September 4— Ash Mountain rangers responded to Potwisha Campground following two 911 calls reporting a man who was yelling and scaring campers. The suspect was stopped by rangers near Tunnel Rock. He was cited for disorderly conduct. An additional person was cited for driving with a suspended driver’s license.
August 27— Rangers responded to a motorcycle vs. pickup head-on collision on Clover Creek Bridge near Lodgepole. The driver of the motorcycle died at the scene. There were no injuries to the occupants of the truck. The Generals Highway was closed for several hours.
August 27— Rangers responded to the Lodgepole Visitor Center for a 29-year-old male visitor suffering from stroke-like symptoms. It was determined that fatigue and anxiety were likely contributing factors. The patient declined further care.
August 27— A woman reported to a ranger that her boyfriend and his family had left her stranded. She could not remember where their motel was located, so rangers provided a courtesy transport to Lodgepole Market. The ranger providing the courtesy transport suspected mental illness.
August 28— Rangers responded to Wuksachi Lodge for a report of a woman who had taken her 18-month-old child and barricaded herself in the bathroom. (This turned out to be the same woman as in the previous entry.) A history of mental illness and recent drug use was reported by the woman’s boyfriend and his family and confirmed by rangers. The incident was a result of an ongoing family feud. The woman had a previous history of felony domestic violence, and the man (father) was on felony probation with a lengthy criminal history including felony drug distribution and an active, non-extraditable warrant. After four hours, the situation was resolved between the parties. Child Protective Services was contacted for further follow-up.
August 28— Rangers were notified of a 21-month-old child who had fallen off an air mattress in Lodgepole Campground and hit her head. The child was allegedly unconscious and unresponsive for five to eight seconds. When the child was brought to rangers, she appeared pale and sluggish. The child was transported by Ambulance-6 to Hospital Rock. All vital signs remained stable throughout the transport, and the child’s behavior became more “normalized,” according to her father.
August 23— A 49-year-old female became ill after hiking to Hamilton Lake. Rangers responded, arriving the following day and found that she was feeling well enough to hike out with aid from her husband.
August 24— A 70-year-old female was reported to be feeling poorly after having been in the wilderness for several days on a stock-supported trip. She was light-headed, nauseous, and had developed a cough within the previous 24 hours. After an EMT evaluated her, a medic was flown to the scene where she was treated and transported to the Ash Mountain Helibase for transport to a local hospital by ambulance.
August 24— A 52-year-old female injured her knee the previous day while hiking down from Colby Pass into Kern Canyon. She was unable to continue, so a satellite device was utilized to request assistance. A ranger arrived and splinted the knee. Since the initial treatment site was two miles from the nearest landing zone, the woman was provided crutches to get herself to the landing zone the following day. The next morning, she was flown to the Ash Mountain Helibase and transported by private vehicle to the hospital.
August 25— A 23-year-old male reported via satellite device that he had become ill while hiking at Hamilton Lakes. He was vomiting and unable to keep down food or water. After two days of rest, his condition improved, and he decided to continue his hike.
Kings Canyon District
—Rangers continued the investigation into three human-caused fires in the Grant Grove area.
—Rangers closed Grant Grove Village and Grant Tree Road several times over the Labor Day weekend as parking lots filled beyond capacity.
—Rangers contacted and issued several citations for camping and fire-related violations.
—After a tree fell in Sentinel Campground, 38 campsites were closed in Cedar Grove campgrounds due to hazard trees.
—A campfire ring that was built on the asphalt in concession housing is under investigation.
—A man was given a mandatory appearance citation for violation of restrictions on his driver’s license (ignition interlock device. If an IID detects alcohol on a driver’s breath, it will not allow the vehicle’s engine to start.)
—Rangers completed a report of a tree failure at Hole-in-the-Wall that resulted in damage to the National Park Service horse corral.
—A Cedar Grove ranger led search efforts that involved emergency removal of sick or injured people from an area by helicopter.
—There were numerous search-and-rescue incidents along the Sierra Crest during the Labor Day holiday weekend, including several that involved helicopter transport of sick or injured people.