|Williams seeks to clear sonís name
Father of man killed in off-road crash disputes reported accounts of accident
It’s been extremely difficult for Steve Williams and his family to deal with the grief over the death of his son, Brent Williams, 30, who was killed in an off-road accident on April 18 in Southern California.
The accident, which occurred at the Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Area in San Bernardino County, also injured Brent Williams’ wife, son and daughter. Steve Williams is angry over how he feels details of his son’s death have been erroneously and insensitively reported.
It initially had been reported to local news agencies by the California Highway Patrol in San Bernardino how his son, Brent, had lost control of his vehicle, an off-road vehicle they had built from scratch six years ago. The implication was he was traveling at too high a speed, causing the vehicle to roll out of control. That interpretation was completely wrong, Steve Williams said. The result was caused by a mechanical malfunction.
Phone calls to the CHP office handling this investigation were not returned by the time The Community Voice went to press.
“My son deserves to have his name and reputation cleared as this accident was not at all his fault,” Steve Williams said. “He was being responsible, loving, caring overprotective father he always was. I am the builder of the buggy he was driving. If the blame falls on anyone. It is me.”
Also, he took issue with reports of his son and his wife, Naomi, the passenger, not wearing seatbelts upon driving off in the vehicle. The sequence of the unfortunate events began with Brent and Naomi leaving camp so they could get into range – about a mile away from camp – to pick up a signal for their mobile phones. Brent’s mother, Camille, suggested they take the children for a little ride. They figured all was safe because Brent and Naomi were traveling at a slow rate of speed in an unpopulated area on flat ground.
“When they left, the adults did have on their seatbelts with the children sitting on their laps,” Williams said. “My daughter-in-law said the roll was so instant, they didn’t even have time to scream. It was instant and violently fast. No doubt, in hindsight, we all wish none of them had gone out to use the phone that night.
“It was my vehicle. I had 99 percent of seat time in my vehicle, and it should have broke with me, not my beautiful family. Anyone who knows my son knows for a fact they were acting in a responsible way and were the victims of a horrible accident.”
Steve said a grade-8 bolt suddenly broke on the lower passenger side control arm on a four-link triangulated suspension. When this arm broke, the passenger side of the front end got pushed back, breaking the shock and sending the vehicle into an immediate roll.
“I have pictures to verify the control arm was dragging in the ground,” Steve Williams said. “The bolt is still stuck in the side of the buggy where it broke. No one could control that vehicle once the arm broke.”
He said the officer on the scene didn’t understand the geometry of the suspension in the vehicle and how such an accident occurred.
The accident also resulted in his 2-year-old son, Terrell, to be airlifted to a Loma Linda University Hospital with several bones fractured in his face, a broken jaw and facial abrasions. Fortunately, Terrell Williams has been heeling well, Steve said. Brent’s 4-year-old daughter, Saleen, suffered a fractured collarbone and facial abrasions, while his wife, had broken ribs.
On top of their sadness, Steve and Camille are concerned about how their grandchildren have been hearing negative comments about Brent’s perceived lack of responsibility because of the accident.
“It’s going to be difficult enough for my grandchildren to go through life without their father,” Steve said. “What they don’t need is to read all the crap that’s been written and said that is not the least bit true.”
A trust fund has been set up to help Brent’s family make the adjustment to life without him. Donations can be made to Exchange Bank at 6290 Commerce Blvd. in Rohnert Park. Write FBO Williams Family Trust Fund on checks. Also, donations can be made by going to google.com/site/Williams Family Trust Fund.
Services for Brent have been scheduled for noon, May 12, at Hessell Union Church in Sebastopol.