Searing images of loss

Deadly drama on the Feather River will be hard to forget

Like many of you, I’m having a hard time getting Saturday’s terrible accident in the Feather River Canyon out of my mind. I keep picturing the events: Sixteen-year-old Oroville High School student Cody Olson driving; his father, Jameson, and his 9-year-old half-brother, Jameson III, with him in the car. I see Cody using a passing lane to get around a slow-rolling RV, but when he pulls back into the right lane he loses control of the vehicle and the car plunges into the canyon and the river below.

In my mind’s eye I can see Cody pulling his brother to the relative safety of a rock, then going back into the frigid, rushing water to rescue his drowning father, only to join him in death. And I can imagine little Jameson clinging to that rock for a half-hour, all alone now, before leaving it and falling victim to the river.

It’s easy to picture these horrific events, but hard to forget them.

My heart goes out to the Olson family. What a loss.

Tunnel vision: If you’ve ridden a bicycle through the Annie’s Glen tunnel, you’ve probably noticed that a small part of the tile work on the west side is unfinished. It’s a rectangular section about 18 inches high where, instead of those beautiful 4-inch handmade ceramic tiles that grace the rest of the tunnel, there’s a piece of plywood.

At first I wanted to think the tile artist had left the wood there because he or she believed, as some Persian rug makers do, that only God is perfect and that all works of art therefore should contain a minor imperfection. But, as much as I fancied that notion, I knew it wasn’t true, so I called Fritz McKinley, the director of the city’s Building and Development Services Department.

“What’s with the plywood on the wall?” I asked. Fritz is a helpful guy, so after patiently telling me it was a Parks Division matter, he said he’d get an answer for me. And, sure enough, he called back later to tell me the space was being reserved for a plaque that was expected to arrive soon, one of those brass numbers with city officials’ names on them. Personally, I’d rather see more tiles.

Gloves come off: By the time the Chico City Council meeting drew to a close Tuesday night (June 7), it was clear that Measure A had taken a beating at the polls. That may account for the bizarre behavior of its chief proponent, Stephanie Taber, who showed up near the end of the meeting. Clutching what appeared to be a Yes on A/Tea Party poster with various racist images, she accused the five council members who’d opposed the measure of committing “a desperate and despicable act.”

Following the meeting, Councilwoman Mary Flynn approached her outside council chambers and asked to see the poster. When Flynn said it was wrong to accuse council members of being behind it, Taber snatched the poster from Flynn’s hands. “Give that back! It’s mine!” she yelled, then stormed off, muttering something about “whacking” Flynn.

As they say, politics is a blood sport. (For more on Measure A, see Newslines, page 9.)

Robert Speer is editor of the CN&R.