Anderson Valley Fire Chief Andres Avila was resting on his back porch at his Yorkville home on a recent Sunday evening. It was a little after 8pm. The Chief was tired after a long weekend of high temperatures, equipment breakdowns, a fire strike team far away on the Helena Fire in Trinity County, depleting his department.
It was just about dark when suddenly, from the direction of Highway 128, the ominous sound of flesh vs. vehicle, then the explosion of a tire. Avila jumped up and moved to the front of his house to get a better look. He heard tires squealing and saw a vehicle slowing and moving down the road, finally stopping a few hundred yards away at the top of a slight grade.
A few seconds later — BOOM! Another hit! And another car, obviously damaged, wobbling down the road going maybe half-way up the same grade to join the first casualty.
Avila grabbed a flashlight and started down his driveway to check out what had happened when BOOM! A third one! Something was in the road that vehicles were running into. Avila shouted to his wife to drive his Chief’s fire truck out to the road where he turned on the headlights and overhead flashers and started directing traffic around whatever the obstacle and the now-broken down vehicles still in the road. All three vehicles had hit what looked like a “monster boar” — well over 200 pounds of wild pig — at highway speeds. In these collisions, wildlife may not win, but they bring down as many vehicles as they can. Avila used his flashlight to guide passing traffic around the now dead boar in the road. The first vehicle, a Mazda or Ranger, driven by a still shocked woman, had a damaged front end and an exploded front tire.
Avila called his neighbor, retired Chief Colin Wilson, who arrived on scene to help the first woman with her vehicle and tire. Avila grabbed the pig carcass by the rear legs and pulled it over to the side of the road.
The carcass was so broken up that Avila had to shovel pieces of it pig off a long section of roadbed.
“It was still hot out,” said Avila. “My wife was downwind and she could already smell the thing starting to rot.” The Chief, anxious to spare his Missus olfactory distress, shoveled the remains as far from his house as he could. Avila then noticed that the driver of the third damaged vehicle, a minivan, was leading a convoy of nine or ten cars of family and friends returning from a weekend out of the heat bludgeoning much of California. “When we began we had a pig and about 12 cars blocking about 300 yards of the right side of the road as they headed southeast,” said Avila. There’s not much shoulder there either so the vehicles couldn’t pull completely off the road." Three vehicles had already hit the animal. Avila and Wilson's quick dispatch of the porker had spared additional travelers additional mishap.
“The road was black, the pig was black — drivers had trouble seeing that large animal in the road,” the Chief remembered. Avila ordered a tow truck for the minivan. Meanwhile Wilson had helped the first vehicle to get running and that driver was able to slowly crawl off to Cloverdale for repairs. Wilson shouted through a bullhorn to the people in the nine or ten trailing cars to all the way off the pavement, but they apparently didn’t understand that they weren't on some lightly traveled country lane and simply got out of their vehicles and started walking toward the downed minivan, leaving their vehicles available for further mishap on the roadside. Finally, by getting the first two vehicles running and towed, the road was cleared sometime after 10pm. Realizing the memorable porker was still within stench-distance of his home, he tied a rope to what was left of the battered animal and dragged it with his command vehicle a couple hundred yards from his house. No way now would the smell reach him and his.
But the next afternoon, Monday, Labor Day, Avila noticed that Caltrans had come along and pulled the carcass back near his house but had thoughtfully placed two warning cones near the ripe remains that the Chief, thinking all the while of Mrs. Chief's nasal welfare, had taken such pains to protect.
The next day, Caltrans came along with a loader and dump truck and not so much of a whiff remained of him. Avila was certain the old boar had been in Colin Wilson’s apple trees and was the same marauder who'd roto-tilled his vegetable garden. The Chief and his son had been planning to sleep outside to catch the pig in the act of garden plunder, but as it turned out, a parade of tourists, heedless on their southbound journey home, had finished off the old thief for for the whole neighborhood.
“We got to him too late,” chuckled Avila. “It ruined my attempt to get some weekend rest, wiped out three vehicles and made a mess. But nobody was hurt and we won’t have to worry about that animal any more.”