Man jailed for nearly killing MaryAnn Levenson

A 77-year-old man convicted of felony drunken driving for striking and severely injuring Menlo Park bicyclist MaryAnn Levenson was sentenced Friday to eight months in county jail and taken into custody immediately.

Walter Sorensen of Hillsborough was driving the pickup truck that struck Ms. Levenson, then 48, on Sand Hill Road just east of the Interstate 280 interchange on Dec. 23, 2006.

He avoided a jury trial by agreeing to plead "no contest" to a conviction of felony drunken driving, said San Mateo County Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.

In addition to the jail time, the sentence includes five years of probation, 300 hours of community service, and $366,000 in restitution, of which the insurance company paid $100,000 and his family the rest.

His driver's license was revoked for five years.

Ms. Levenson was hit from behind while riding in the eastbound bike lane on Sand Hill Road just east of the Interstate 280 interchange.

The truck dragged her some 35 feet. Among her extensive injuries: a fractured pelvis, broken vertebrae, a shattered larynx and extensive damage to one of her feet, part of which had to be reattached.

Her severe physical trauma was no contest for her hardy spirit: Ms. Levenson was back up and racing less than three months later.

She is now a member of Menlo Park's Bicycle Commission, which advises the City Council on existing and planned bike facilities in the city.

See the next edition of The Almanac for more details.


Posted by NotJustice, a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Mar 8, 2008 at 6:53 pm

Not allowed to drive for 5 years? What about never allowed to drive again? This is hardly justice. Yes, he is getting punished, but not enough. We need to make sure that people like this don't get behind the wheel of a car in the first place.

Posted by Diane, a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Mar 10, 2008 at 10:59 am

So the guy is allowed to plead no contest to felony drunken driving and avoid a just sentence for his outrageous behavior: Driving while drunk, striking and almost killing a cyclist riding in the bike lane, AND trying to flee the scene. What a travesty.

Posted by Shirley Jackson, a resident of another community
on Apr 3, 2008 at 3:38 pm

Byciclist are a menace to car drivers every where on the Peninsula, they do not respect any traffic signs and they bike without any regard to any traffic rules and regulations.
Crystal Springs Road is a haven for the byciclists riding like maniacs and being a daily hazard to every driver.
It is interesting that in this case nobody was there to come forward and testify honestly what happened. The story spun out of control and everybody added something to it and at the end nobody knew who was at fault. Everybody was on the side of the byciclist.
Moreover, the newspapers and the reporters write one sided stories they never look at the accident in a detached manner. It is always the byciclist who is innocent and the driver who is at fault.
Maybe we the drivers should make an alliance against "dangerous byciclists' on the roads and start a campaign against the byciclist who are riding without any rules and endagering everybody on the road.
What about it?
Lets start a discussion about the byciclist on the roads what is your experience?


Posted by SJ, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 26, 2008 at 8:25 am

I have been hit by a car but not seriously injured, run into a ditch on Kings Mountain Road by a truck and luckily only a flat tire to repair. My question is; what is everyone in so much of a F###### hurry for?? Why so self absorbed and unconcerned for fellow members of one's community?? Is it really so important to have such big egos and to be so rushed all of the time?? Too many "big operators" for my taste!!!!

Let's leave our egos out of it and try to link into a sense of community and aim for larger, loftier goals, like empathy, humanity.

Posted by diligent driver, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jun 26, 2008 at 10:09 am

This driver was not your typical mid-peninsulan-in-a-hurry. For starters, he was drunk, he dragged a woman for yards, then tried to escape after she extricated herself. Even though she is resilient and seems to have a ridiculously positive attitude, she has permanent injuries that have been noted in other news stories.

There's just no way in our current system to keep drivers like this off the road, but now that he has been sentenced, I hope she hits him with a big civil suit.

Meanwhile, I am looking forward to July 1, when all those cell phone users have to hang it up. People need to remember that their cars are not just convenient means of transportation but deadly weapons when not handled properly.

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