Almanac

News - November 6, 2013

Community raises funds for teens orphaned by alleged drunken driver

by Sandy Brundage

As an alleged drunken driver awaits arraignment, the Menlo Park community is raising funds to help the three teenage children who lost their mother and father in a fatal accident in Menlo Park on Oct. 24.

Relatives are reported to be looking after the couples' children — an 18-year-old daughter, a 17-year-old daughter and a 15-year-old son.

Menlo Park Police Chief Robert Jonsen told the Almanac that there are two funds people may donate to: One, established by the family, will directly support the children. Contributions can be made to: Rema Singh FBO Singh Family Relief Fund at any Wells Fargo branch.

The police plan to use the existing Menlo Park Police Foundation 501(c)3 nonprofit to raise money for ongoing scholarships for children who lose a parent to an accident or crime, according to the chief.

"The first wave of scholarships will be committed to the Singh children," he said. "The oldest daughter starts college in January so we hope to have funds available by then to assist her with tuition and supplies."

Checks may be made out to the Menlo Park Police Foundation and either dropped off at the police station or mailed to the department at: 701 Laurel St., Menlo Park CA 94025.

Arraignment delayed

Balbir Singh, 50, and Kamal Kaur Singh, 45, both residents of Menlo Park, were walking their dog in the bike lane eastbound on Chilco Street in Menlo Park during the early evening of Oct. 24 when they were hit from behind by a 1998 Honda Accord driven by Marjorie Reitzell, according to police.

Investigators said the Honda kept going, over the center median and into the westbound lane. It hit another car, causing minor damage but not injuring four passengers. The Honda then collided with a tree before finally stopping.

Police arrived minutes after a 6:54 p.m. call reported seeing two bodies in the road. Menlo Park Fire Protection District personnel arrived and pronounced the couple dead at the scene.

Ms. Reitzell, 54, of Redwood City, was arrested on two counts of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and two counts of felony driving under the influence. Convicted of a misdemeanor DUI in November 2012, she was on probation and had a valid driver's license at the time of the Oct. 24 tragedy, according to law enforcement officials.

A preliminary screen showed that her blood alcohol at the time of the accident was more than twice the legal limit of 0.08 percent, District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.

While scheduled for arraignment on Oct. 28, just before court started Ms. Reitzell complained of chest pains and was removed for medical treatment, according to the district attorney's office, and was not cleared to return to court for several days. She remains in custody on $2 million bail; the arraignment is expected to take place this week.

Mr. Wagstaffe said that while the investigation continues, right now the evidence does not support filing a murder charge against Ms. Reitzell.

The Singh family held memorial services last week at Chapel of the Chimes in Hayward.

The couple's dog, Teddy, was turned over to the Peninsula Humane Society immediately following the accident, which took him to the North Peninsula Emergency Veterinary Clinic for treatment. PHS representative Scott Delucchi told the Almanac that the Chihuahua was improving daily and was expected to return home.

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