The June 10 rescue of a woman driver who drove through a metal guardrail at the end of Cowles Mountain Boulevard and landed in a ravine happened three weeks after Navajo Community Planners’ May 19 vote to recommend installation of a barrier to close the dead end to traffic.
The Cottages condominium residents requested a barrier to halt activities that include underage drinking and discarding mattresses.
The barrier will be located across the boulevard north of Rainswept Way, which leads into the Cottages. Some land at the dead end belongs to the complex. Mission Trails Regional Park habitat is on the other side of the guardrail.
The woman's car crashed through the guardrail on June 9 and plunged about 50 feet, San Diego Fire-Rescue Department spokesman Lee Swanson said in a June 11 interview. Firefighters responded to a call at 11:45 p.m. and had "some difficulty" reaching her because of the heavy brush and vegetation. They used the Jaws of Life hydraulic tool to free her, Swanson said.
News reports did not identify the woman — described by News 10 as a DUI suspect. She was also referred to as a hit-and-run suspect.
The Reader phoned and emailed the San Diego Police Department from June 11–13 but was unable to confirm this or obtain additional information.
Brett Weiss, a Cottages resident since 1991, said in a June 11 interview that she didn't hear the collision, which a neighbor said sounded like a bomb. Since noise levels increase in the spring, she sleeps in the living room, with the TV providing white noise.
Weiss saw TV news crews set up on June 10. A neighbor told Weiss the rescued driver collided with a truck parked in the complex. The neighbor gave Weiss a picture of the damaged truck for this story but declined to be interviewed or identified.
Weiss recalled two other incidents when "cars went through the barrier." Both occurred about ten years ago.
One involved an elderly Cottages resident. "She was injured, but okay. After that, I think the city replaced the wooden guardrail with a metal one."
On "another wild night at the dead end," she saw a man "driving into a pole and plowing into a utility box." He then entered the complex and crashed into a tree.
In the days after the latest collision, Weiss has seen traffic increase at the dead end. People take pictures, usually solo or group selfies. A couple brought a young girl with a teddy bear to the site.
"I don't understand this disaster tourism," Weiss said.
Barrier options discussed at the Navajo Planners meeting were a chainlink fence with a movable gate (estimated cost: $3980) or a barricade (estimated: $5580.)
"The community decided to go with a chainlink fence," Ryley Webb of District 7 councilman Scott Sherman's office said in a June 11 interview. "We are working with traffic engineering to finish up the design and identify the contractor."