By Debra Moore
An observant CHP officer most likely saved the life of a man traveling from Reno to Sacramento the day after Christmas.
Reese McAllister, of the Quincy CHP area office, was patrolling La Porte Road south of Thompson Creek Road around 10 p.m. p.m. on Dec. 26. As McAllister neared the end of the road, where it is impassable for the winter, he noticed a portion of the snow berm was missing. It was on the east side of the road where it curved.
According to McAllister, there was no sign of tire tracks leaving the roadway, but it was snowing with about 6 inches of snow on the road. McAllister suspected that a vehicle had gone off the roadway earlier in the evening. He got out of his vehicle and shined his flashlight down the extremely steep embankment toward the creek. There, suspended upside down against a tree, was a vehicle covered in snow approximately 40 feet below the roadway.
McAllister yelled down to the vehicle and was surprised when someone yelled back asking for help. That voice belonged to the driver and sole occupant of a 2021 Jeep Compass, Oluwatosin Olubayo, 27, from Baltimore, Maryland.
McAllister climbed down to the vehicle and assisted Olubayo out of the Jeep and up to the roadway. Olubayo said that he had been stuck in the vehicle for about 3 hours and was cold and worried. He found his cell phone in the dark, but had no service. He used its flashlight to find more clothes to put on to keep warm, including three pairs of pants and multiple sweatshirts.
Olubayo was not injured as a result of the collision, but his vehicle was disabled and he had nowhere to go.
During an interview Dec. 30, McAllister said he tried to find a motel room for the victim, but there were no options available from Quincy to Portola. He tried to make arrangements with another officer from the eastern end of the county to take him back to Reno, but that wasn’t possible either.
“He rode around with me for about four hours,” McAllister said. During that time, he learned that Olubayo worked for At&T in some capacity, had been living in Reno, and was trying to reach Sacramento. He, like so many others who have tried to navigate the closed La Porte Road, was relying on his vehicle’s GPS. Ultimately, with no other options, McAllister dropped him off at the laundromat in East Quincy, which was warm, and had a bathroom. He said Olubayo was arranging for a friend from Sacramento to come and get him.
As for the vehicle, McAllister said that Quincy Tow was able to retrieve it Dec. 29. The vehicle contained Olubayo’s travel bag, which couldn’t be accessed during the rescue operation.
When asked what would have happened if he hadn’t driven up there that night, or noticed the berm, McAllister said, “He would have figured it out (how to get out) or we would have found him in the spring.” It’s a stark reminder that some of these incidents can end in tragedy.