Commentary of ’89 : Jere Witter on the Death of a Man

During 1989, many Orange County residents wrote about their thoughts and feelings in commentary pieces for Orange County opinion pages. As the year comes to a close, we look back on some of those thoughts.

Visible in the open casket under a veil of white gauze was the forehead of Juan Antonio Jimenez, age 43. His ordeal lasted 20 days.

He had been struck and hurt on the road north of Brawley and lodged in a desert hospital that had neither means nor equipment to deal with his injuries. There were nine that could, including four major centers in Orange County. The desert doctors strove mightily to get Jimenez admitted--still alive, still savable--to one of the nine. Not one felt able to take him. How could a county of generous people be so stingy?

We live in the most-favored county of the well-favored state. Yet we can’t afford to save a neighbor who mortally needs our help. Are we so busy making our own little pile of money and keeping it that we’ve forgotten we have neighbors? Juan Jimenez was our business because he was our neighbor. Part of our county. One of us.


Yet we let him die on a Sunday of gangrene. Nobody dies of gangrene in a civilized place anymore. This unnecessary death suggested a medieval carelessness about life unworthy of a glamorous county in this modern age.