Point Reyes rancher dies in reservoir crash

11/15/2012

A bouquet of flowers on Point Reyes-Petaluma Road now overlooks the spot where a member of a well-known ranching family fatally crashed into the Nicasio Reservoir earlier this week.

Rich Giacomini, 71, of Point Reyes Station, was traveling southbound when his pickup truck swerved and crashed through a guardrail before tumbling several feet into the reservoir just before 6 p.m. on Monday.

The county sheriff’s office, which was notified by an emergency tracking device inside the victim’s car and phone calls by witnesses, worked with firefighters and the California Highway Patrol to recover the body from the vehicle, which authorities estimate was submerged in about 25 feet of water.

A coroner pronounced Mr. Giacomini dead at around 6:30 p.m., after efforts by rescuers to resuscitate him failed. Rescuers were aided by a small group of witnesses who, from the ridge overlooking the reservoir, pointed to headlights shining beneath the murky water, Marin County Sheriff’s Lieutenant Doug Pittman, who was first on the scene, said.

“If nobody sees you go off the road, and you go into the water like that, it’s almost impossible to see where you are,” he said.

Highway patrol is working with coroners to determine the cause of death. The tracking system inside Mr.

Giacomini’s car was operated by OnStar, Lt. Pittman said, an emergency broadcast system that notified the sheriff’s office about the location of the incident.

That device did not exist in 1994, when authorities combed the county for an Inverness couple who were found dead in a pickup at the bottom of the reservoir a week after they were reported missing.

Mr. Giacomini is the third generation of an established ranching family that once ran the county’s largest dairy production, managing an estimated 2,000 cows that stretched across about 3,000 acres. He ran the family’s 550-acre dairy ranch with his two sons, Rick and Ronnie, until it was converted in 2007 into a federally protected wetlands after the National Park Service purchased the land in the early 2000’s. 

Mr. Giacomini’s mother, Louise Giacomini, died in 1967 in a similar car wreck on Point Reyes-Petaluma Road, over which she and her husband, Waldo Giacomini, plunged into the reservoir. Waldo, who escaped from the vehicle, died in 2002. 

 

A wake is scheduled at 7 p.m. on Friday at St. James Catholic Church in Petaluma and a funeral will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday at Sacred Heart Church, in Olema.