Braden Varney was coming home, but not in the way anyone expected.
His body was going to be carried through his hometown in the back of a white SUV. Its destination: the Stanislaus County Coroner’s Office.
The Varney family has lived in Mariposa for decades, longer than anyone could remember, although no one could say exactly how long. Everyone knows everyone in the 2,173-person community. It’s a truism, they admit, but an accurate one. Here, in the seat of Mariposa County, Varney was a large man, both in size and reputation, and in death, he grew bigger still.
The heavy-equipment operator died Saturday after his bulldozer rolled down a steep ravine in a remote stretch of countryside near El Portal.