Almanac

News - August 13, 2014

Menlo Park Fire Protection District sued over crash

by Sandy Brundage

A collision between a fire vehicle and car last fall has led to a lawsuit filed against the Menlo Park Fire Protection District and the firefighter who was behind the wheel.

The suit, filed in San Mateo County Superior Court on Aug. 1, by two people who were in the car — Jose Cardosa and Feliciano Curup — asks for compensation related to unspecified injuries, loss of wages and property damage resulting from alleged negligence on the part of the defendants.

The collision occurred on Aug. 20, 2013, at the intersection of El Camino Real and Ravenswood Avenue at about 10:19 p.m., based on police and fire district records.

Battalion Chief James Stevens, responding to a shooting in East Palo Alto, was driving a 2008 Chevrolet Suburban with lights and sirens activated when he made a left turn on a red light onto Ravenswood Avenue, according to the records. The driver of the other car, a 1998 Volkswagen Jetta, reportedly heading north on El Camino Real at 35 miles per hour, was unable to stop before entering the intersection, and the two vehicles collided.

Mr. Stevens was found at fault for failure to yield, according to Menlo Park police.

Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman said the battalion chief is a 32-year veteran with an exceptional driving record.

"The fire district regrets any situations negatively involving the general public when responding to emergency incidents, since our primary mission is to protect life and property," Chief Schapelhouman said. "Each year our personnel safely respond to over 8,000 calls for service all over the fire district."

Additional fire personnel responded to the accident scene and provided medical treatment to the occupants of the car, he said. The two occupants of the fire vehicle were not injured.

Juan Simon, the attorney for the plaintiffs, did not respond to a request for comment.

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