You Tell Us: A car accident brings the Temescal together
on May 9, 2011
At around noon on a Saturday two weekends ago there was a major accident in the heart of the Temescal neighborhood. I was waiting for my lunch to arrive at La Calaca Loca when my phone rang. A distraught stylist from 17 Jewels, the hair salon owned by wife Julie Stevens, was on the other end.
“Why isn’t she answering her phone? There has been a horrible accident…a truck…in the salon…a man…” said the voice on the phone.
It didn’t make sense. My wife was in the restroom, so I leapt up, pounded on the door, got her out of there and in a blur handed her the phone. She took off running.
I got our lunch to go and by the time I got to the salon the sole victim of the accident had already been taken to Highland. What I saw when I got there was unbelievable. A truck was completely on the sidewalk and its front end had crashed into the beam that is used to support a corner of Temescal Place, the condo building that is also where 17 Jewels Salon + Spa has been operating since 2005.
The front of the truck had a broken axle and there was a bicycle beneath it. There was a green Camaro with its front end wrapped into a small tree.
The cops let me through so I could go into the salon. As soon as I walked in I began to shake. Luckily the normally busy Saturday had been in a lull and no one — none of our staff or the clients — was injured. One of the windows had shattered as a result of the impact; they tell us the sound of it was loud and violent.
One stylist and her client were just beginning a consultation near the window that shattered into a million pieces. The pieces scattered all the way to the other side of the room, but not a hair was touched or any skin scratched.
After a while those of us who were not there for the impact began to clean the mess. The community came together. One little girl was afraid that Julie, the owner of the salon, was hurt and began to cry. Her mom had to comfort her. Many people had to make sure that Julie was okay.
As the day went on we began to hear the story of Hector and how he helped the man who was hit by the truck. Hector works at the Lucky 13 Tattoo shop. As soon as her heard the impact of the crash he ran to the scene, along with two other men. He cleared the man’s face of glass as the girls from the salon handed him towels. He spoke to him whenever it seemed as if he’d drift from consciousness. Another mysterious man, who we haven’t been able to identify yet, tied tourniquets on the injured man’s leg.
Another local employee, Patrick, who works at a bar across the street from the salon, had run to get the injured man’s wife who was at the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse. He didn’t want to create a scene or upset her too much, so when he finally got her to come to the door he calmly explained to her that her husband had been hit by a truck and she needed to come with him but that her children should stay there. When she arrived Hector instructed her to talk to her husband. “He needs to hear your voice!” he said.
At the scene of the accident the police tried to tell Patrick to move away from the wife’s side but she said she wanted him beside her.
By the end of Saturday there was a rumor going around that the man’s injuries were too great and he had not survived. But the next day I met a calm woman outside of the salon; she said she was the man’s friend. She told me he had pulled through, that he almost did not make it due to loss of blood but that he did. I like to think that thanks to Hector and others running to his aide and engaging him into staying with us, that he helped this husband and father of four live.
We put a sign outside the salon that said the man injured in the accident is doing well “all things considered” and that what happened that day was tragic but a blessing as well, because we all walk by there everyday and it could just as easily been one of us.
Then, a week later, my wife and I met the wife of the man who was injured. I had just come from a mindful meditation group and I saw my wife talking with Hector, a woman and a tall older man. All week long Julie had been saying she hoped that she could meet the man who had survived the accident … it turns out he had been asking his wife to go back to where it happened. He remembers everything that happened, but mostly he remembers Hector’s voice. One of the reasons his wife came back was to see the faces of everyone who helped.
We all learned something that day about community, about compassion. Temescal is a great neighborhood. So many people have been coming in to check on the staff of 17 Jewels. Our message says the salon is “located in the heart of Temescal,” and after that Saturday I truly think 48th and Telegraph is the heart of Temescal.
Joanne Bussiere has been a resident of Temescal for the better part of 10 years and has recently begun to enjoy handbuilding ceramics at Studio One Arts Center and experimenting with gluten free vegan cookie baking.
You Tell Us is Oakland North’s community Op-Ed page, featuring opinion pieces submitted by readers on Oakland-related topics. Have something to say? Send essays of 500-1,000 words to email@example.com. We’d love to hear from you!
All essays reflect the opinions of their authors, and not of the Oakland North staff or the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. Oakland North reserves the right to edit submissions for length, clarity and spelling/grammar. You Tell Us submissions must be written in civil and non-offensive language. We do not publish hate speech, libelous material, unsubstantiated allegations or rumors, or personal attacks on individuals or groups.
Oakland North welcomes comments from our readers, but we ask users to keep all discussion civil and on-topic. Comments post automatically without review from our staff, but we reserve the right to delete material that is libelous, a personal attack, or spam. We request that commenters consistently use the same login name. Comments from the same user posted under multiple aliases may be deleted. Oakland North assumes no liability for comments posted to the site and no endorsement is implied; commenters are solely responsible for their own content.
Oakland North is an online news service produced by students at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and covering Oakland, California. Our goals are to improve local coverage, innovate with digital media, and listen to you–about the issues that concern you and the reporting you’d like to see in your community. Please send news tips to: firstname.lastname@example.org.