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Voice: Why vans can't swerve

September 05, 2001

On Feb. 14, 1997, my grandson Joseph and I went to the Tropicana Restaurant on North Sixth Street in El Centro for an enjoyable lunch as usual. After that we went west from Sixth Street on Euclid Avenue to show him where I used to live with his grandmother and our family until 1960. From there we went on the same street, where we would see where his father, Allan, live during his boyhood.

When we arrived on the east side of Eighth Street at the stop sign, I looked to the north clear to the railroad, which is about two blocks, and we saw nothing. Then we turned to view the south end of Eighth Street and saw two small pickups coming close, so we waited a few seconds to let them pass.

As we drove across Eighth Street in my 1970 LTD Ford that weighed around 4,000 pounds and had a low center of gravity, we slowly and cautiously got halfway across when my grandson yelled "Oh." I did not know what his exclamation meant until we were rammed on the starboard side by a van that has a high center of gravity.

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It made a dent about a foot deep. When I felt the loud crash I instinctively swerved to the right so the van could slide down the side to the back of our auto. It made a total wreck of my car and I had to sell my LTD for junk.

Joseph's father stored my wrecked vehicle in their family's Pipkin Trucking yard until I sold it.

The police officer cited me for being in error of getting in the path of subject vehicle. The policeman said I was 51 percent to blame.

The next day I went to the place of the accident and saw some straight-as-an-arrow skid marks made by the van that were around 50 to 60 feet long. Mechanics have told me that vans can't swerve due to their high center of gravity!

RICARDO JIMENEZ

El Centro

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