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Car Trouble
August, 2017 - Issue #155
"I'm not sure how many people are prepared with the equipment, skill and stomach required to perform a roadside de-gloving and gallbladder-ectomy, but there's at least one of them OUT THERE."
Outdoor grilling season should mean burgers on the barbecue, not Fido in your Fiat. Yes, it's that time of year. Sheriff's deputies have already responded to multiple calls about dogs being left inside parked cars in the heat. They've even gone so far as to break windows of at least two cars in order to rescue the panting pooches inside. Excessive heat makes vehicles dangerous to man and man's best friend alike, but that's just the beginning. The destructive capacity of our beloved cars has been on full display all summer long.

Road Rage
You probably saw the clip, courtesy of Santa Clarita resident and videographer Chris Traber. On the 14 freeway not far from Newhall, a sedan switched lanes and nearly took out a motorcycle rider in the process. The motorcyclist then pulled alongside the vehicle, steering his bike to within feet of the sedan so that he could try and kick it. That's when the driver of the sedan swerved in front of the motorcycle in response. The motorcyclist evaded the maneuver, but the sedan driver lost control of his vehicle, careening through lanes of traffic and taking out a truck driven by an innocent older man in the chaos. Despite the fact that the incident took place at high speed on a crowded freeway, everyone survived.

This textbook-case road-rage escalation has been viewed millions of times. It's no surprise it was shot here. With the sheer number of hours we Claritans spend on the road, mistakes are bound to happen. Truly-seasoned motorists know this and try not to get worked up. No one wants to be remembered as the guy who died from trying to kick a car on the freeway.

Combustible Cars
There seems to be a fire or two in Placerita Canyon every year - so much of it burns that it's a wonder there's anything left. This year's first big blaze came courtesy of a car the crashed into a tree. The driver's ride went up in flames (She made it out OK, though.), those flames spread to nearly 1,000 acres in less than a day and the 14 freeway was shut down for a while in both directions. At least road fear is a stronger emotion than road rage, so people put up with the closure to let the firefighters do their job amid high heat and strong winds. The portion of the canyon that burned was relatively free of development, but Disney Ranch lost a structure.

The twist on this case of the combustible car? It was just the first act. A news van that drove to Placerita to cover the wildfire caught fire itself, apparently from some cause totally unrelated to the flames burning in the hills. Luckily, the NBC-4 van didn't spark a second blaze and the news photographer was safely outside the van when the fire began. Who knew that vehicle fires were contagious?

Roadkill Averted
Any time that a large carnivorous mammal wanders into Santa Clarita, it's only a matter of time before someone runs it over. Coyotes, mountain lions, you name it. When sightings of black bears began popping up this summer, it only took a week for the inevitable to happen. A motorist reported hitting a bear near the Old Road, but it was able to run off - hopefully the wiser.

That bear faired better than one which was hit by a car in Canyon Country last year. It died of its injuries and was left on the side of the road. By the time that Caltrans workers came upon the dead animal, they noticed the body had been butchered. Someone had cut off all four of the bear's paws and removed its gallbladder. Apparently, some believe the organ has medicinal properties. I'm not sure how many people are prepared with the equipment, skill and stomach required to perform a roadside de-gloving and gallbladder-ectomy, but there's at least one of them out there. (Maybe your neighbor...). Whether you're driving through bear-prone areas or not, show you heart the SCV this summer by driving responsibly; the roads are crazy enough already.
This column is intended as satire and a (sometimes successful) attempt at humor. Suggestions, catty comments and veiled threats intended for the author can be e-mailed to iheartscv@insidescv.com.
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