Auto Accident is a Near Miss

The Navigator was shoved off the road as the drive was taking the sharp right hand turn onto Hillside in Topanga. Photo by Flavia Potenza

Around 8 p.m., on March 20, just as he did every night on his way home from work, Michael Dodds flipped on his right-turn signal and slowed down for the sharp turn as he approached lower Hillside Drive.

Suddenly, a car trying to pass on his right slammed into the Lincoln Navigator, shoving him over the berm, through the metal fence, and into an oak tree, mere feet from crashing into the roof of the house of the Rosewood office complex.

“I’m always extremely cautious on this turn,” Dodds, still somewhat shaken, told the Messenger Mountain News. “This guy hit me so hard, it was like a roller coaster ride. He [the driver of the other car] was going very fast, came under the right front end of my car, lifted it up and shoved it into the fence.”

Dodds struggled to get out of the car, which was pitched nose-down at a sharp angle. “It was hard,” he said. Fortunately, neither driver was injured.

Just at that time, CHP Officer Jeff Wadsworth happened to be passing by and immediately took charge of the scene, taking a report and releasing the offending driver as a heavy-duty flatbed tow truck arrived.

Officer Wadsworth described the incident as a “pit move,” a maneuver used by law enforcement during vehicle pursuits.

Under flashing emergency lights, the driver maneuvered the tow truck into position to retrieve Dodds’ car. Headlights still glaring, its nose was securely wedged against the oak tree, the rear wheels hung up on the small berm.

One final look and Dodds mused, “That tree caught me.” Then, as if saying goodbye to an old friend, “I really loved that car.”

Flavia Potenza

Flavia Potenza is executive editor of the Messenger Mountain News. She is also a founding member of the 40-year old Topanga Messenger that closed its doors in 2016. She can be reached at

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