Son’s death prompts mother’s quest for guardrail in Aguanga

Jon Barksdale’s and Jacob Szmanski’s memorials commemorate the location of the fatal crash off state Route 371. Courtesy photos

On a summer day last year, a local woman was rocked by the most devastating experience any parent can face: the loss of her child. That woman is now focusing her grief on making sure the traffic accident that took the life of her son and his close friend is not repeated.

Kim Szymanski’s son Jacob Syzmanski, 26, and his friend Jonathan Barksdale, 28, were killed shortly before dawn June 13, when their 2007 Mustang failed to negotiate a curve on state Route 371 just east of Lakeshore Drive and Bradford Road in Aguanga.

The Mustang crossed into the opposing westbound lane and off the north roadway edge, striking a boulder 25 feet off the roadway before overturning onto its roof. Both men died at the scene.

Kim Szymanski now is determined to get a guard rail installed at the crash site.

“We could save someone else from dying,” she said. “Save some other family from being broken.”

Szymanski said that after the accident she had asked a California Highway Patrol officer whether a guardrail along that section of roadway may have prevented the fatality.

“He said it was possible,” the soft-spoken Szymanski said. “That answer gave me a mission.”

Szymanski said she has contacted the California Department of Transportation, and they told her that they will be performing a study on the part of the highway where the fatal crash occurred.

“It is a long process,” she said. “They have to research the accident history in that area, which from what I hear goes way back and is quite long.

“Several times every year, money is spent on fixing potholes and repaving our roads,” she said. “I don’t know what the cost is, but instead of repaving and repairing next time, couldn’t we work on putting some guardrails in where needed?”

A guard rail between Sorenson Road and Barbara Trail might be the first step in what Szymanski hopes is the beginning of many safety improvements to Anza-area’s rural highways.

“If this guardrail is installed, I would like to dedicate it to the memory of the boys,” she said. “It would be Jacob’s and Jon’s Guardian Rail.”

A flower memorial dedicated to the young men is located at the crash site and is clearly visible from the roadway.

Jon Barksdale, right, and Jacob Szymanski, left, lost their lives in a tragic accident, June 13.

One Response to "Son’s death prompts mother’s quest for guardrail in Aguanga"

  1. Nicole   February 18, 2018 at 11:20 am

    Seriously! They have to research the accident history and it is a long process! Allow me to save them the time and money. One life is too many and two have been lost. Now reroute the research tax dollars to the Jon and Jacob guardrail!


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