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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.


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  1. M. Himel on May 9, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    I drove by on Telegraph that afternoon, with the street half blocked off by firetrucks and police cars, and it looked pretty scary. Good to know that everyone is going to be ok! And good job Hector and Patrick!

  2. Oakland Resident on May 9, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    What a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Margaret on May 10, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    We cannot thank the the loving and caring folks of the Temescal neighborhood
    enough for all the support, quick actions, and compassion you took to help save
    our brother. We are truly blessed to have him with us today.

  4. Grace on May 10, 2011 at 6:16 pm

    Thank you a million times to everyone there that helped. It is thanks to all of you that my dad is still alive today. Everyone was so brave and selfless to have come outside to help.

  5. Robyn on May 11, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    Your story really touched me. The victim and his family are a part of my neighborhood and my community. They, themselves are some of the most caring, giving people I know. Thank you for stepping up that day to help a complete stranger. You saved the life of a wonderful person, father, husband, friend. It feels good to hear about kind, selfless acts and people coming together…especially in a day in age when all we hear about in the news are the negative things. Life is good! Thanks.

  6. Melanie on May 12, 2011 at 11:38 am

    We are so grateful for the incredible courage everyone showed that day. The victim is our neighbor and we all miss him. Thanks to all of you he will come home soon!

  7. Bill on May 12, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    I want to thank everyone who helped my best friend on that terrible day. Mark has been my best friend since Kinderguarden and my neighbor and my Best Man at my Wedding.We would have lost him but for some Good people who went out of thier way to help a stranger. To ALL of you, “Thankyou from the bottom of our Hearts”!

  8. Dolores (the Mother) on May 14, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    Words cannot express my gratitude to the Temescal neighborhood for the quick action and kindness in saving my son’s life. Julie and staff of 17 Jewels, Hector, Patrick and the unknown man who put the tourniquet on my son’s leg – you truly are good Samaritans. – – Love you all, and God Bless you.

  9. Michael ( the nephew) on May 14, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    Thank you people of Temescal with your quick and compassionate thinking. Thank you and god bless you!

  10. Veronica ( niece) on May 14, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    Thank you for helping my uncle. With your quick actions. God bless you all!

  11. Heidi on May 15, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    Thank you all so much for keeping Mark alive. He has been a friend for almost 30 years, and one of the best people I know. Thank you Hector for talking him through everything, and Patrick, for getting Susan, and having the foresight to have the kids stay where they were. and thank you to the mysterious “tourniquet man”- you are definitely an angel and we can’t thank you enough.

  12. Oakland Resident on May 16, 2011 at 11:07 am

    I am so glad to hear that the victims are going to be ok and that the community came together in this accident.
    I did want to mention that the American Red Cross no longer recommends that civilians apply tourniquets. Only physicians and paramedics are allowed to use the tourniquet–with tourniquets there is a risk of completely cutting off circulation to the rest of the limb. In the case of excessive bleeding, apply pressure and elevate the wound above the heart if such movement is possible.

    • Jeni on June 15, 2011 at 1:31 pm

      The man who applied the tourniquet was a federal agent who had emergency training. He showed his badge to the paramedics when they arrived, although we never got his name. We’re so glad that Mark is doing well and thinking of him today as he undergoes the – hopefully – last surgery. Last night a number of us who had been at the scene gathered at Fenton’s, treated to a meal as a thank you from Mark’s dad. Community is a wonderful thing!

  13. tony on June 28, 2011 at 6:11 pm

    Rethink the prioritizing of the car Oakland.

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