A Ukiah woman is feeling extra thankful that several District 2 Maintenance employees were in the right place at the right time after a terrible car crash left her and her dogs stranded at the bottom of an embankment for over seven hours.
According to Susanville CHP, Tina Milberger was traveling on State Route 32 on Wednesday, November 2 around 11:30 p.m., with her four dogs, when her vehicle left the roadway and went down a steep embankment. The vehicle overturned and then slid down the embankment, eventually coming to a stop about 130 feet down. Milberger was unable to get out of her vehicle, leaving her stranded and hanging upside down in her vehicle.
It wasn’t until around 4 a.m. that two District 2 Chester maintenance employees, who were plowing snow in the area, discovered car tracks leaving the roadway. Vic Baccala and Chuck Braswell shined a bright light down the embankment and Milberger began honking her horn. That’s when the two employees called 911.
Once emergency personnel arrived on scene, they used a rope system to pull Milberger and three of her four dogs back up to safety. Milberger was air lifted to Enloe Hospital for suspected major injuries.
The next day Shannon Kenyon, a Chester maintenance employee, learned of the crash and how one of the dogs from the crash was still missing. Kenyon, being a dog lover, decided he was going to do what he could to try and find the dog. During his shifts, Kenyon stopped at the crash site when he could and called for the dog. Two days of these efforts with no success was beginning to leave Kenyon with little hope that he was going to be able to find the dog. But on Saturday, his luck would change.
As his shift was coming to an end Saturday, Kenyon decided to revisit the crash site one last time. He knew this would likely be the last time he would try and call for the dog as another storm was making its way to the area. Kenyon said he arrived at the scene and said, “please Lord let me find that poor dog because if he’s not found tonight, he’s probably not going to make it”.
“I walked over to the edge and I yelled ‘Macho’”, said Kenyon. “I walked to where I could see down the hill and I saw something red move”. After learning earlier in the day that the dog was wearing a red collar at the time of the crash, Kenyon knew that movement had to be the dog.
“I took a leap of faith, grabbed my gloves, and headed down the mountain”.
Once Kenyon arrived at the bottom of the embankment, he found Macho near the water’s edge. It appeared as though Macho’s back legs weren’t working, and he was growling and scared. Kenyon spent the next few minutes sitting with Macho to become friends with the dog before having to pick him up and carry him back up the embankment.
“I just remember saying to him, ‘You’re going to have to trust me. You have to trust me. You have to get out of here, you can’t stay here. So I reached out, put my arms around him and he let me pick him up, he just leaned into me and up the hill I went with this 40 plus pound dog’.”
And with that, Kenyon and Macho began making their way back up the 130 foot plus embankment back to Shannon’s vehicle.
After reaching the top, Kenyon placed Macho in his vehicle and drove to a spot with phone service to call Macho’s owners. Kenyon learned that the owners had just returned to Willits and would be unable to come back that evening. Kenyon took Macho home for the evening, providing him with a safe and warm place to sleep as well as food and water.
The next day, Kenyon and his wife drove to Red Bluff to meet Macho’s owners and reunite Macho with his fur siblings. It was a very emotional reunion that both Kenyon and Milberger are incredibly thankful for.
- Written by Haleigh Pike, District 2 Public Information Officer