Student crashes his car into a tree in lot 10 after dozing at the wheel

Saddleback student David Gonzales crashes his brand new Hyundai after dozing off at the wheel in Lot 10. (Chelsea Jarrell )

Nathalie Lozano

David Kirk Gonzales, a 24-year-old pre-medical student, crashed into a tree at 12:50 p.m. in parking lot 10 on Monday. He fell asleep at the wheel after working a 24-hour shift.

Gonzales works 24-hour shifts at the Fire Department Ambulance Company. He also works as a CPR trainer and as a YMCA employee.

“Well, between three jobs and school, do you blame me?” Gonzales said.

Gonzales was taken to the student health center by Saddleback registered nurse Jana Kaffer and later released after ensuring he was stable and healthy.

Saddleback College Campus Police officers Mike Looney and Santos Garcia arrived at the scene to make a report after being called by student Ashley Huffman, a 25-year-old pre-medical student.

“It was very unexpected,” Huffman said. “I saw him speed up and heard tires screeching and I got on my phone immediately.”

Saddleback College protocols differ depending on the type of accident. Any accident involving an injury will be deferred to medical aid. Saddleback police officers are able to handle any situation that the CHP or Orange County Sheriffs Department can handle.

“For something this bad we’re amazed he’s not hurt, “Looney said. “We usually see minor fender benders, but not this bad.”

Students gathered quickly around the incident and approached the victim to ensure that he was safe.  The accident shocked student Jocelyn Chu, a 37-year-old health major. 

“He just walked out of his car looking a bit dizzy. A car can be replaced, thank god he is safe and nobody else got hurt.  It was very unexpected. He was going slow at first, and then quickly accelerated,” Chu said.

Gonzales’ 2013 Hyundi Elantra was less than a month old with the dealer’s plates still on. The collision caused major front-end damage. The tree trunk was implanted in the front end causing the hood of the car to crunch up.  The airbag was deployed with the back windshield being shattered by the impact from tree branches.

The tree was taken down by Saddleback maintenance crew in order for the car to be towed. Saddleback maintenance worker Emerson Abbot was part of the on-campus cleanup crew. 

“This is why it’s important to have enough equipment in case of an emergency, especially with all the greenery around the campus. We were able to act quickly,” Emmerson said. “We fortunately have two bins, one for maintenance waste and the recycling bin. All of todays incident will be taken to the maintenance recycling yard,” Abbot said.

Luckily nobody was hurt except the Hyundai, which experienced major front-end damage (Chelsea Jarrell)

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