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Safety is vital

Posted: July 10, 2010 7:48 p.m.
Updated: July 11, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Regarding safety for the Fourth of July fireworks at Westfield Valencia Town Center Mall: A large church in Chatsworth funded a grand Fourth of July fireworks display at 9 p.m. close to the large residential Porter Ranch area and many nearby large businesses in the Chatsworth-Northridge area of San Fernando Valley.

Prior to, during and after that fireworks event, the main access street, Rinaldi Boulevard (a divided four-lane boulevard), often used as an emergency route for fire and police, etc. was kept closed and all traffic detoured around that area until all participants had left the area at around 11 p.m.

Rinaldi also has access onto Highway 118. However, Sheriff’s, Police and Fire departments closed the freeway off-ramps that would have led cars into the venue, to eliminate access to Rinaldi in that area.

The police officers patrolling on motorcycles, bicycles and horseback constantly admonished pedestrians to stay off the road pavement and sidewalks. They had access to each other on specific radio frequencies. Prior to the fireworks display, pedestrians were allowed to walk on the sidewalks, but not allowed to stop there to chat or set up accommodations. The pedestrians were encouraged to occupy the grassy areas that line the boulevard, even with chairs, blankets, baby strollers, wheel chairs, etc.

At the time, it seemed like strict precautions. Now, we have all been hit in the gut and heart by the horrendous, tragic death of Matilde Garnica, crushed onto a lamppost by a flying vehicle, the injury of seven others and the post-traumatic stress suffered by nearby onlookers. My husband and I believe the regulations for fireworks displays, and for any future, similar, large public events that take place in the Santa Clarita Valley must change immediately.

Do consider the procedures and precautions used by the organizers of the fireworks display in the Porter Ranch area of Chatsworth-Northridge.


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