Without being insensitive to the individual circumstances that surround the deaths of five people in the San Lorenzo Valley in the past two months, I think it’s necessary to point out we’re going through a difficult time right now.
I’ll give you a brief recap of the tragedy that seems to have struck the valley.
Just this week, two men were killed in separate car accidents on rural roads in the mountains. Neither was wearing a seat belt, and as of Wednesday morning, their names had not yet been released to the press, because their next of kin had not yet been notified.
Three accidental deaths not related to automobiles preceded them.
On April 6, Wendy Rivas of Boulder Creek was found dead at the bottom of a steep ravine after leaving her home on foot. On March 23, Roger Jouron, a homeless man, was found dead of natural causes near the San Lorenzo River in Boulder Creek. And back on Feb. 4, the body of Soquel resident Guadalupe Cortes was found partially submerged in the San Lorenzo River near Highlands Park in Ben Lomond.
Compounded by the shootings of two Santa Cruz police officers, Loran “Butch” Baker and Elizabeth Butler, on Feb. 26 in Santa Cruz, the deaths must have emotions, fears and questions running through the minds of many local residents.
This is a tough time.
I am no authority, but I do suggest talking about what is going on with one’s friends and neighbors and continuing to keep a wary eye on one’s surroundings.
People in SLV are self-reliant and have proven their ability to take care of themselves during some of the most powerful storms I have witnessed. The storms of 1982 are an example. So is the 1989 earthquake. So is the El Nino weather of the mid-1990s, and any number of trees that have fallen and roads that have washed out throughout the valley.
In my experience, the people of each town in the valley band together when the going gets tough.
Right now, we’re facing a storm of a different nature — a storm of tragedy.
If you can, I suggest reacting in a similar way. When there is crisis, support the efforts of law enforcement to find missing people. Be on the lookout for suspicious circumstances, and help keep your friends and acquaintances from undertaking dangerous, potentially life-threatening actions. Diffuse potentially combustible situations, be a friend to someone you know is having a tough time — even volunteer your time and efforts to get a necessary project done.
It’s impossible to know if there was anything anyone could have done to prevent the deaths of these people. However, the way we respond toward the families of the deceased and in our own communities will help us weather the storm of tragedy that has descended on our area these past few months.
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