A wooden telephone pole stopped the progress of a wayward car and probably prevented major injuries to a bicyclist traveling north on El Camino Real near Watkins Avenue in Atherton Tuesday afternoon, Nov. 30. An 81-year-old Atherton resident had fallen asleep at the wheel of an Infiniti sedan and veered off the road, police said.
The cyclist, a 25-year-old Redwood City man, suffered minor abrasions after falling off his bike. He fell after his bike was struck and knocked down by a bus stop sign, which the car hit and sent flying before running into the telephone pole, said Lt. Joe Wade of the Atherton Police Department. The cyclist was able to walk away from the scene, Lt. Wade said.
The car might have continued on into the cyclist but for the telephone pole, which did not give way and stopped the car, he said.
Neither the driver nor the car's one passenger were injured, Lt. Wade said.
The driver will not be charged and the matter now goes to the insurance companies involved for payment of damages, according to Lt. Wade.
"Obviously if this had been a fatality, we send those up to the district attorney," he added. "Ultimately, it would have been a crime if something worse had happened."
Does an accident involving an 81-year-old driver trigger an inquiry by the state Department of Motor Vehicles? "Not necessarily," Lt. Wade said, adding that he did not know if the DMV had a blanket policy for such cases.
A call to the DMV's public affairs office has not yet been returned.