It is likely that most of Sierra County residents wondered why the death of George Gilmour, a lawyer from Oakland, was newsworthy.
Yes, he was the advocate of rural justice, loved the law enough to work relentlessly and unselfishly to clean the tarnished reputation of lawyers and he knew what it was like to be sent unjustly to prison. A while ago Original Sixteen to One Mine was Sierra County’s largest non-government employer, which is newsworthy when its attorney dies in a tragic accident. But even in death, George may influence one of us who never knew him.
When I took his ashes to Holy Cross cemetery in Colma last week, I met George’s friends and relatives. A troubling thought grew from our talks. George, it seems, was a terrific driver and loved to drive since his youth. People were perplexed about how he went off the road and into a tree. Could it have been the sun? No. Did he try to avoid an animal? Possibly. Did someone force him off the road? Unlikely. I too was confused.
While we will never know what precipitated those black skid marks on Pliocene Ridge Road, George’s accident may help all of us from experiencing a similar tragic death. It is because of my love for George and my understanding of the warmth he held for mankind that I offer another possibility for his accident. As customary in fatal accidents blood tests are routinely performed. George’s blood alcohol level was .12, somewhat higher than the cut off of .08. Perhaps this impaired his heretofore-splendid record of knowing how to drive. I love you, George, and if your driving was affected by a couple of glasses of wine on an empty stomach, I’ll tip a glass to you tonight. But I promise to stay out of a car.