The lead tow-truck operator for a Groveland-based towing company administered two perilous vehicle recoveries over the weekend, pulling out a vehicle stranded on the banks of Don Pedro Reservoir on Saturday and recovering a motorcycle over 100 feet down an embankment on New Priest Grade on Sunday, where one man was airlifted to Doctors Medical Center in Modesto for treatment of his injuries.
Kevin Rivera, 26, of Groveland, said his position as the lead tow-truck operator for Miller Brothers Automotive in Groveland was often so hectic that he could hardly remember the jobs that he performed just days prior. But the two vehicle recoveries from over the weekend were too significant to forget, he said.
“All tow companies have their recovery moments, so I guess this is one of ours,” he said.
On Friday about 1 p.m., Rivera said he was dispatched to the Blue Oaks Campground side of Don Pedro Reservoir on a report that a black vehicle had traveled down two embankments and was stuck just a handful of feet from the water’s edge.
Rivera said when he arrived at the scene, the owner of the vehicle was waiting there and did not appear to be intoxicated.
“He said he was just driving and the road kind of ended,” River said.
The vehicle had tumbled many feet below, where it came to rest on the slope, high-centered, with all four tires off the ground.
Rivera said the owner was lucky that he didn’t sustain serious damage to the vehicle. Rivera was required to snatch block the vehicle, which doubles the pulling capacity of the tow truck, and pull the vehicle up onto three different levels and off the banks of the lake.
The process took three to four hours, he said, because a person was required to use a chainsaw to cut limbs off a nearby tree and clear the area for the passing of the car.
The next day, Rivera was dispatched to a motorcycle vehicle recovery after a person on a Harley-Davidson VRSC motorcycle rode off a steep embankment on New Priest Grade near Moccasin Pass.
Kristen Vogel of the Sonora-area California Highway Patrol said they received a report at 10:18 a.m. of a motorcyclist down an embankment. The driver was conscious and talking but not moving about 75 down the embankment, she said, and the motorcycle came to rest about 100 feet down the embankment.
A group of other motorcyclists were contacted by the CHP at the scene, she said.
The victim was taken by air ambulance to Doctor’s Medical Center in Modesto. Vogel said she did not have a name, age or information on the nature of the injuries.
A report also did not indicate the direction the person was traveling, she said.
“That spot right there is very notorious. Any time someone goes off, it’s there everytime,” Rivera said. “That spot is kind of cleared out already so it's easy for that stuff.”
Rivera said he was required to travel down the 100-foot embankment with a cable that was then attached to the motorcycle. He said you often have to return to the vehicle while it is being pulled up to change the trajectory or maneuver it around trees or boulders.
“Sometimes it's not the easiest. Every now and then you'll get those extreme ones,” he said.