The circumstances when tracing the manner in which a truck crash victim (Michael Sanchez Jr.) was lost then found, near a San Jose freeway (Highway 101), is a labyrinthian mind boggler. Much of the problem is due to random happenstance, but some of it is due to grievous human error. And yet, my best guess is that the considerable gap of time (a full week – from May 8th to May 15th), when Michael Sanchez lay injured in a tangle of thick brush, bushes, and trees, is the result of a ‘bureaucratic glitch.’
I carefully perused what I could glean from newspaper articles on exactly how the accident transpired. Getting at this was largely unsuccessful, although a skeletal sketch does emerge, at least. Sanchez was talking to his sister on his cell phone just after 1:00 AM Tuesday, May 8th. Seemingly, Michael’s 1991 tan Ford Ranger pickup went across several lanes, exists off the ramp of Hellyer Avenue, and goes off the road into a ravine quite overgrown with many types of verdure.
A witness sees a man crawl out of his wrecked Ranger, and sees him stumble into the woods. But did this eyewitness disconnect his call placed to 911 after he or she sees this shocking aftermath of a car crash? We know CHP officers responded to a call, so I assume this witness called them back. But did the motorist stay on the scene until CHP arrived? This is not so clear from the several major news reports we have. We know it was the dead of night, on a Tuesday no less, so I don’t believe anybody was around.
And what can we say about the 45 minute search for Sanchez by CHP officers and the Sheriff’s Office? Really all we can say, is that they couldn’t find him. Is 45 minutes enough time to conduct a thorough search, when the terrain is so overgrown with trees and bushes? And was Sanchez actually in the same locale as he was when they would eventually find him 7 days later? We imagine it would have been hard to move from the place he collapsed, but it is possible he did so.
What I’m having the biggest problem trying to understand, however, is that the family reported him missing (since he didn’t show up to a funeral) on Thursday, the 10th, and yet the San Jose Police couldn’t connect him to an accident report involving his tan Ford Ranger until the 15th? I sense this is the same problem Michael’s sister, Pricilla Sanchez, is having. It sounds like the paperwork sat on someone’s desk, then was shuffled around to other desks ever so gradually. In the meantime, a very strong young man clung to life for an entire week, somehow, without food, shelter, or water.
We learn that the San Jose Police investigators wern’t assigned to the missing persons’ case until Monday, May 14th. Lo and behold, they found Sanchez the very next day, after returning to the original Highway 101 crash scene. I would assume they were able to connect the accident report and the identification of the tan Ranger as belonging to Mister Sanchez, with his ID on the missing persons’ report. But didn’t the first responders already know he was missing on the 8th? Someone had to be driving the crashed-out Ranger? The injured motorist had to be somewhere?
No, it doesn’t make any sense, the sequence of events as we see them emerge from news reports, or if we attempt to reconstruct what we think may have happened. An excuse is given that the Ranger was registered to a faulty address in Visalia, but they still knew the vehicle belonged to Michael Sanchez. Why didn’t they return to the Hellyer exit crash site the day after the accident? A witness saw a man climb out of the truck and vanish into the thick of night. He’s somewhere, not nowhere!