Family mourns loss of beloved son to crash
Scott Richins never thought his son would become a statistic – another fatal crash on Highway 49.
“It seemed out of the blue,” Richins said Monday.
His son Noah Richins, 31, was killed May 1 when another driver reportedly crossed over the double yellow lines near Cramer Road and broadsided him, sending Richins’ Pontiac Bonneville into a drainage ditch.
Noah, a beloved steward of his large Mormon family with a successful landscaping business, succumbed to his injuries at the scene of the accident, Richins said. Noah’s disabled mother, Victoria Richins, 58, who had been riding in his passenger seat, suffered broken ribs and bruising.
Noah had been taking his mother, whom he lived with as her caretaker, to the grocery store, Scott Richins said.
“The other driver crossed over the double yellow lines streaking toward him,” Scott Richins said. “Noah couldn’t get out of the way. He took the blow of the collision. He was alive for only 15 minutes after that.”
No one in the family could have imagined this would happen, especially after all of the trauma they had already faced. Richins said he and his first wife Victoria have already lost two other children. One son was struck by a bus when he was 18 months old and daughter Tiffany, born with meningitis, was reportedly beaten to death when she was 12 by a child care worker in her foster care home for disabled children in Georgia.
“To have that happen and to talk about it now just doesn’t seem real,” Richins said. “This is just another day in hell.”
Noah’s accident, like nine other fatal accidents last year on the same stretch of Highway 49, is the impetus behind a local push to make the highway a safer drive.
Citizens for Highway 49 Safety, formed by accident survivors Bruce and Deborah Jones, organized a community meeting in January to discuss possible safety measures with law enforcement and Caltrans’ representatives.
The California Highway Patrol has stepped up enforcement, getting tough on speeders and unsafe drivers, and Caltrans officials committed $500,000 to safety improvements on the deadly stretch between McKnight Way and Dry Creek Road, declaring it a “safety corridor.”
Nevada County supervisors Sue Horne and John Spencer have also called a town meeting to update residents on Highway 49 issues Wednesday in Grass Valley.
Representatives from Caltrans, the CHP, the Nevada County Transportation Commission and county transportation staff will provide information on Highway 49 improvement projects and related traffic safety and enforcement.
Deborah Jones said she will attend the meeting to lobby for further safety improvements, including securing the $200 million needed to widen the highway between Grass Valley and Auburn.
“We’re not stopping after the safety corridor (is implemented),” she said. “We’re trying to find funding for highway widening and a center barrier.”
While the community tries to come up with the best preventative measures to address carnage on Highway 49, the Richins family is doing all they can to get through this tough time.
Noah’s little sister Michelle, 11, wrote a precocious poem about the tragedy, while Scott Richins is actively investigating the cause of the accident, trying to make sense of things.
The California Highway Patrol said the man driving the BMW that hit Richins’ son may have been under the influence of drugs.
“Maybe he fell asleep,” Richins said.
Officer Kelly Baraga, spokeswoman for the Auburn CHP, said the toxicology report on the man who struck Richins will not be available for several weeks.
Scott Richins also hints that improved safety measures on the highway may be necessary.
“If they had a barrier, that’s the only thing that would have stopped it,” he said.
In the meantime, Scott Richins is simply trying to get through each day.
“They say just doing simple things like using the weedwhacker makes you feel normal,” he said.
“I have four dogs, and petting them helps. Sometimes I’ll just pet them and cry.”
To contact staff writer Robyn Moormeister, e-mail email@example.com or call 477-4236.
What: Town meeting addressing Highway 49 improvements and Allison Ranch Road repairs
When: 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 10
Where: Moose Lodge, 15694 Allison Ranch Road, Grass Valley
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