Almanac

News - April 23, 2014

No charges against driver in death of Joy Covey

by Dave Boyce

San Mateo County prosecutors have decided not to bring charges against the driver of a delivery van involved in a fatal accident in September 2013 that took the life of Woodside cyclist and former Amazon CFO Joy Covey. The van and bicycle collision occurred on Skyline Boulevard about three miles south of La Honda Road.

Ms. Covey, 50, was the mother of an 8-year-old son, Tyler.

The Almanac learned of the decision not to bring charges when it asked District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe on April 15 for an update. He said the District Attorney's Office made its decision in February after receiving the California Highway Patrol's completed accident report in November.

In an excerpt of a memo to the CHP, prosecutor Joe Cannon says there is insufficient evidence to establish negligence by the driver.

At the time of the Sept. 18 accident, Ms. Covey was riding her bike north on a downhill section of Skyline Boulevard at about 1:30 p.m. when a white Mazda minivan traveling south turned left onto Elk Tree Road "directly in front of the bicycle," according to a CHP report.

In the memo, Mr. Cannon says the van driver was neither distracted nor intoxicated. Mr. Cannon cites a witness who describes the area as dappled with light and shadow at the time, a condition that the witness said makes seeing a bicyclist difficult.

Mr. Cannon also cites a witness who said that it appeared that Ms. Covey and the driver did not see each other. These findings would "prevent" a jury from finding negligence beyond a reasonable doubt, the standard of proof in such a case, Mr. Cannon says.

"Based on the totality of the circumstances and results obtained in similar scenarios, a jury would more probably find what occurred was a tragic accident rather than negligence by the suspect," he says in the memo.

Joy Covey

At the time of the accident, Ms. Covey was the treasurer for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). She had been the chief financial officer at Amazon from 1996 to 2000. In 2003, she received the Distinguished Alumna Award from Fresno State University. Her bachelor's degree from Fresno in business administration was awarded summa cum laude.

Ms. Covey graduated from Harvard Business School and was a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School, both in 1990.

In 1999, Fortune magazine named Ms. Covey one of the 50 Most Powerful Business Women in America, and in 2000, the World Economic Forum selected her as one of 100 "Global Leaders for Tomorrow."

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