The Pauli Exclusion Principal to the contrary, Ohio Division of Wildlife officer Brad St. Clair saw firsthand on July 28th the consequences of quantum mechanics as to how two bodies cannot occupy the same space at the same time.
While headed in a certain direction on one of Noble County’s ubiquitous narrow and serpentine backcountry road, St Clair’s state-owned, seven-foot-wide 2012 GMC pick-up truck met a seven-foot-nine-inch wide 2001 Dodge pick-up coming from the other direction.
However, the problem was that the point where the two vehicles met at the top of a blind crest is only 13 feet across and festooned on either side with Noble County hard rock.
Consequently, it was crunch time with both vehicles suffering the effects of physics; each in spite of the fact that St. Clair was piloting his Wildlife Division-issued truck at a creeping-along speed of just 15 miles per hour while the Dodge wasn’t inching forward much faster: Only 25 miles per hour.
No way, however, could either vehicle come close to the road’s legal allowance of 55 miles per hour, also says a Wildlife Division official.
St. Clair was on routine patrol when the accident occurred. He’s been the state wildlife officer assigned to Noble County for the past eight years and graduated from the agency’s wildlife officer cadet academy in 2003. Previously St. Clair had postings in both Van Wert and Fairfield counties; zones with much flatter terrain and often much straighter and wider country roads.
Though the Dodge pick-up was up to be driven away under its own power, St. Clair’s GMC needed assistance from a tow truck, said Wildlife Division assistant chief Susan Vance.
Vance added that neither driver was cited by the Ohio Highway Patrol which investigated the incident. No word yet on the degree of damage to St. Clair's pick-up truck, Vance said.
“If you’ve ever been to Noble County and its curvy, narrow, steep, hilly roadways, it should come as no surprise that both drivers were travelling at reduced rates of speed in an effort to be safe,” Vance said. “State employees are people, and accidents do happen. Everyone here is really thankful that everybody is okay.”
Vance said that in addition to the accident being looked into by the Ohio Highway Patrol, Wildlife Division administrative protocols were followed as well.
These building blocks of procedures included input from various agency supervisors, the state’s Department of Administrative Services along with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Office of Human Resources, Vance said.
And with a fleet consisting of some 377 registered vehicles, Vance says also, the Wildlife Division’s track record of avoiding traffic accidents is stellar in every respect. This safe driving regimen is particularly true given the wide array of drivers that includes commissioned officers, hatchery workers, maintenance crews, administrators, and educators – the whole lot of employees tasked with driving motor vehicles, Vance says.
So good is this attention to driving defensively that no one in the agency could recall any Wildlife Division employee ever being killed in a motor vehicle accident while on the clock, Vance said.
“We have vehicles travelling 365 days a year at all times of the day and night, on road, off road, hauling boats, trailers, and equipment; all across the state, and sometimes travelling out of state when needed,” Vance said. “All in all, our staff does a great job of focusing on safety – which in turn helps us manage state equipment, including vehicles.”- Jeffrey L Frischkorn