On Sept. 10 at around 6 p.m., a driver hit a bicyclist on Newtown Road and left him to die. I live nearby and I didn’t hear the ambulance sirens or the helicopter that night, but I heard about the accident when a neighbor called me at work. She had heard that the victim was Dave and that he’d died of his injuries.
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Dave Marsh is part of our Pleasant Valley landscape although most of the residents know very little about him. Almost any day in spring, summer and early fall, you can come upon Dave walking his bike, keeping the roadways clean by picking up trash and recycling it. I’d dubbed Dave “The Pleasant Valley Guardian Angel” in a March column and several Pleasant Valley residents had responded with their own tales about Dave.
It took several days to pin down the name of the accident victim, and in that time, Pleasant Valley people worried. Rumors flew at the Holiday Market. No one had seen Dave recently, so maybe it was true. Maybe he was dead. People kept calling me, asking about Dave. I began writing a column about him and the horrible thing that had happened. Then we found out that the victim was named Jimi Lee Rohers. He had been badly injured, but he wasn’t dead. Cole Mayer, the Mountain Democrat’s crime beat reporter, wrote an article about the accident for the Sept. 21 paper. I deleted my column about Dave.
But, I found that the anger I’d felt on Dave’s behalf was still with me. It wasn’t about Dave after all — it was about someone being left to die alone on Newtown Road. Someone who was walking his bike and was hit by a driver who left the scene. The person behind the wheel didn’t stop to help Jimi, lying crumpled and unconscious against a wire fence. They didn’t stop to call 9-1-1. They didn’t stop.
It’s possible that the driver didn’t see Jimi walking his bike by the side of the road, even though it was still light outside and a clear evening. The accident occurred on a straight-away on Newtown, not one of the curves, but it’s possible.
But is it possible not to feel the impact of a collision with a 160 pound human being? An impact so violent that one of Jimi’s shoes and and one of his socks flew off his foot as he was thrown 20 feet in front of his bike? An impact that left one of the car’s yellow reflectors and plastic pieces near the victim? I don’t think so. If a deer leaves a dent on a fender, what would the impact of a full-grown human being have on a vehicle?
While I can imagine circumstances that might keep a driver from noticing a bicyclist on the side of the road, I can’t imagine someone colliding with a person and not stopping to see how badly they are injured and calling for help — or maybe I can and I just don’t want to think that there are people in my neighborhood that would do that.
I don’t know Mr. Rohers or have any information about how he is doing or whether the community can help him. I do know that there is at least one other person who knows what happened. Maybe they have family members who wonder that a deer could have caused so much damage to the vehicle. Someone needs to step forward.
Anyone who witnessed the accident on Newtown Road at Starke’s Grade on Sept. 10 or who has knowledge about the accident or information that could lead to the arrest of the driver of the vehicle that hit Jimi Lee Rohrers is asked to contact the California Highway Patrol or the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office. Please help keep Pleasant Valley roads safe for all of us … and Dave.
Wendy Schultz is a staff writer and columnist for the Mountain Democrat. Her column appears bi-weekly.