At the Helm: Making the right call

By Scott Graves, Pilot staff writer August 17, 2012 10:03 pm

 

Boris and Mary Golceff and their adult grandson Joey were driving in a car south on Highway 101 from Gold Beach to Brookings when they noticed the logging truck in front of them  was driving erratically.

The truck driver appeared to have trouble controlling the rig, perhaps because of a shifting load of tree trunks, thought Boris.

Suddenly, the truck swerved completely into the oncoming lane, forcing a car off the road and into a ditch. The truck didn’t stop. It didn’t even slow down.

The Golceffs had two choices: Stop to help the accident victim, or keep on driving, following the truck.

They chose the latter.

“I looked in my rearview mirror and there were other cars behind us. I knew someone would stop and help that poor woman,” Mary said. “We made the choice to follow the truck.”

It was the right decision. Another driver, Shelly Palmer, stopped to assist the victim, who, the Golceffs learned later, sustained minor injuries.

Meanwhile, the Golceffs followed the truck, trying to get close enough to read the license plate.

“We wanted to help identify the truck driver for the victim,” Mary said.

She handed her cell phone to Joey in the backseat and instructed him to call 911 and report the accident. Joey also told the dispatcher they were following the truck and would try to keep track of it until a police officer arrived.

The truck driver continued to drive erratically, slowing down for no apparent reason at times, but did not cross the center line again, Mary said.

The Golceffs followed the truck as it entered the South Coast Lumber mill at the north end of Brookings. A law enforcement officer had yet to show up, so Mary went into the company’s office, told an employee about the accident and obtained more identification of the driver. The couple and their grandson immediately drove to the Brookings Police Department office and filed a report. 

The story doesn’t end there, nor does the help extended by the Golceffs. As witnesses to a potential crime, the couple were interviewed by a member of the Curry County District Attorney’s Office as it prepared its case against the suspected truck driver.  The couple were also interviewed by the victim’s insurance company. “After the interview, the insurance company person said thanks for helping their client,” Mary said.

Eventually, the couple was called into court to testify against the truck driver.   They recounted their story and left, waiting for the verdict.

District Attorney Everett Dial described the Golceffs as Good Samaritans.

“What they did was a public service and helped the victim by following the truck and calling police,” he said.

Dial argued before the jury that the truck driver drove his truck with an unbalanced load, which made it hard for him to control the vehicle.

Last week, a jury convicted the truck driver of reckless driving and reckless criminal mischief. For reckless driving, he was sentenced to five days in jail, 24 months’ probation and to pay $2,140. For criminal mischief, he was sentenced to five days in jail (to be served concurrently), 24 months’ probation and to pay $1,000 plus $1,367 restitution. His driver license was suspended one year.

“His conviction was confirmation that we did the right thing,” Mary said.

Would she do it again?

“Yes.”

Boris agreed, “If someone needs help, it’s just what you do.”