We never really know what the weekend is going to bring us, breaking news-wise. Unfortunately the Tri-Valley got it in spades last Friday through Sunday.
As is typical with our small editorial staff, I found myself on call over the weekend to handle any major news that arose.
It's not always easy with a toddler at home and family activities on the schedule, but it's a necessary part of the job to work in time to report on the breaking stories our readers expect from our team during off-hours.
Not every story, of course; it is important to set personal-professional boundaries and recognize that a lot of the tasks can wait until Monday ... should wait until Monday. As a newshound at heart, that balance can still be something I struggle with -- but I like to think I'm getting better at prioritizing as a father, husband and editorial director.
The news cycle doesn't always cooperate though.
I remembered seeing social media posts on Friday from Livermore police and Danville police about serious car crashes in their respective jurisdictions that necessitated road closures and investigations. But come Saturday, the public chatter was indicating that each crash turned fatal.
As I worked to confirm information from official sources (during Saturday naptime), I learned there was possibly a third fatal crash on Friday night in the Tri-Valley, so I reached out to the California Highway Patrol about what might've happened on Pleasanton Sunol Road.
Oh, and all the while, I was chasing a lead from one of my colleagues who lives in Pleasanton and was roused like many of her neighbors before 3 a.m. Saturday by the sounds of explosions and fire department response.
As it turned out, that wasn't the only major fire news from that period -- as Alameda County Fire, Cal Fire and CHP reported about separate blazes on grassland on the Altamont Pass alongside Interstate 580, including a series from Saturday morning likely ignited by an arsonist. Fortunately all were contained, preventing extensive damage.
And while I was writing on Saturday night, initial reports were coming across about another deadly wreck in the CHP-Dublin jurisdiction.
That made six breaking news stories for me to publish between Saturday and Sunday. You can read all of those inside this week's print edition, if you didn't already read them online.
The sad total ended at four fatal crashes in a 30-hour period for the greater Tri-Valley.
Each loss is profound -- and at least two of the families still haven't been notified, per my coroner's sources.
The local community, and the wine industry at large, was particularly jolted by the news that the man who died after the two-vehicle collision on East Avenue in Livermore was longtime vintner Mitchell Katz, who leaves behind two sons and his namesake winery on South Vasco Road barely over a mile from the crash site.
I hate seeing a spate of fatal crashes like that, but I think it's important to cast them through that prism when multiple happen in such succession.
I was reminded of Christmas week 2020, when three collisions killed five people (including three teenagers) within roughly 33 hours in Livermore.
Then there was the time around Labor Day 2021 when the Tri-Valley saw five deadly collisions in a 10-day stretch, including the devastating news 10 weeks later that the toll from that earlier span was actually increasing when a 6-year-old victim in a Sunol crash died at the hospital from her injuries.
As a journalist, I don't think you ever get used to covering these terrible traffic fatalities, but you can become more proficient at it. You learn what to observe at the site, what questions to ask of authorities, how to approach the families and how to keep track of the often-lengthy investigations.
That last one can be particularly impactful for the community and even those involved. On more occasions than I care to count, families have heard from me or through my reporting that the formal investigation into their late loved one's crash has been completed (usually some time ago), what the results are and even whether charges have been filed if another driver was involved.
As much pride as I take in my dogged reporting skills, that's not news I care to break to those directly affected by the tragedies, but I understand it can happen. And you can be sure our team will be tracking these four investigations closely through to completion.