Ignacio Torres left King City at 3:30 a.m. as usual. The 8o-mile commute had become routine, and Torres had no reason to expect today’s drive would be different from any other. He picked up his fellow CalVans passengers, who settled in for the winding 90-minute drive along Highway 198 between the Salinas and San Joaquin Valleys.
All aboard were confident the vehicle would carry them safely to the fields in time to begin work as the sun rose over the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Several miles into their commute, the routine drive took an unexpected turn. Torres had no time to react when an elk leapt out of the darkness directly in front of the van. He and his passengers collided with the full-grown animal, killing the elk and damaging the van.
A moment of panic gave way to relief when everyone reported they had not been injured. Other than shock and soreness, the passengers were fine. However, the van was totally destroyed.
Torres immediately contacted Hector Aldaco, CalVans on-call staff member in nearby Greenfield. Aldaco rolled out of bed and delivered another CalVans vehicle to the accident site within the hour. Though shaken by the events, Torres and his fellow farmworkers chose to continue on to their jobsite in order to earn the income they had counted on for that day of work. The crew boarded the replacement vehicle and resumed their commute to the San Joaquin Valley, with assurances to Aldaco that they would see a doctor if their soreness continued.
CalVans kept a roadside calamity from robbing its driver and passengers from the opportunity to earn a living and support their families. Vanpooling with CalVans was the right choice for Torres and the farmworkers riding with him the day an unexpected turn of events ended well for everyone onboard.