'New information' surfaces on bicycle accident at Alpine Road and Interstate 280


A collection of vehicles, including squad cars from the California Highway Patrol, gathered at the intersection of Alpine Road and Interstate 280 around noon on Tuesday, Jan 18, to do more research into the Nov. 4 accident in which Los Altos bicyclist Lauren Ward, 47, collided with a tractor trailer and died, CHP officer Art Montiel told The Almanac.

The CHP has "new information" and was conducting a "follow up," Mr. Montiel said, adding: "If this information changes the outcome (of the investigation), we'll let you know."

The new information did not come from a witness to the accident, Mr. Montiel said. The CHP is still hoping that witnesses come forward, he added.

The new information has also not led to a reopening of the investigation in which the CHP determined that the driver of the truck was not at fault in the accident, Mr. Montiel said.

Officers redirected vehicle and bicycle traffic away from the scene of the accident from about 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Mr. Montiel said.

On hand from the CHP were the accident's investigation officer, the area commander, and members of the Multidisciplinary Accident Investigation Team, Mr. Montiel said.

The CHP also required the presence of the actual truck, from Randazzo Enterprises Inc. of Castroville, that was involved in the accident. The driver, Gabriel Manzur Vera, was not present, Mr. Montiel said.

The Ward family, represented by attorney John Feder of San Francisco, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Mr. Vera and Randazzo.

In an earlier interview, Mr. Feder said he had hired an investigative team to conduct a re-enactment. Mr. Feder has not yet responded to an Almanac request for an interview.

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Like this comment
Posted by release it
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 19, 2011 at 12:29 pm

I hope the police will release what is this new information and also the original police report. There were apparently a number of witness statements and we still do not know what they saw.

Like this comment
Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jan 19, 2011 at 12:48 pm


This is something I have suggested since this unfortunate event occurred.

It is very dangerous to accept any initial investigation as gospel. I have my suspicions that the truck driver may not be as innocent as others have suggested.

We'll see.

Like this comment
Posted by john slater
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Jan 19, 2011 at 1:13 pm

Has anyone reenacted the scene with a bicyclist and the truck? In my 50 years of being an avid bicyclist I have never heard of a rider 'just turning', let alone just turning into a big noisy truck next to them.

There is something very wrong with the official accident description.

Like this comment
Posted by Bill
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jan 19, 2011 at 2:53 pm

Secondary evaluations can lead to a misconstruction of the actual event. Regardless of the gathering of law enforcment, the information provided to cause the review must be revealed.

Like this comment
Posted by Jennifer
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Jan 20, 2011 at 1:53 am

I've had near misses with cyclists at this spot. I suspect that cyclists fail to realize that this is a very busy and dangerous intersection and not a country road.

Please be fair to the truck driver. Any time a cyclist is involved in an accident, the vehicle driver is blamed. I've seen too many careless cyclists on Alpine Road to automatically blame the driver of the vehicle.

The family is wrong to leap into a law suit against the truck driver. They should take a moment to realize how horrible it is for him to have killed a cyclist in an accident. Will money bring her back?

Like this comment
Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jan 20, 2011 at 8:30 am

Jennifer -

This isn't the trucker's first accident. The trucker has actually been involved in three fatal accidents... admittedly not all his fault. But THREE?

I drive through that area quite frequently and often see cars and trucks swinging out to the left (and out of their lane) as they make the right hand turn onto the 280 freeway heading north. I think that's as plausible a cause of this accident (and there are no "skid marks" from a bicycle swept up in the wheels of the truck) as believing that a cyclist intentionally steered into the middle of large truck that's right next to her.

Like this comment
Posted by Donald
a resident of another community
on Jan 20, 2011 at 9:09 pm

With no witnesses yet the only "new information" that I can imagine is the result of the family's independent investigation. If it supported the CHP's own result there would be no reason to do all of this follow-up.

Like this comment
Posted by Portola Valley Cyclist
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Jan 22, 2011 at 8:42 am

First, let's clear up that this was an experienced cyclist from Los Altos with thousands of miles of cycling under her belt. This was NOT a new intersection to her. She was exactly where I try to be going under the overpass.

Second, the cyclists that make mistakes are recreational and not very experienced. But, since local residents blocked Stanford from providing a FREE new bike path along Alpine Road for political reasons, there's no alternative. The bike path in this area is all but unusable for a bike. It's distressed with roots and crazy turns, and is only one person wide.

Thirdly, in the past two weeks I've seen crazy drivers passing slow moving traffic by zooming around cars, passing into oncoming traffic, and nearly killing cyclists on one occasion. Cars need to slow down and drive safely. Cyclists may be irritating to car drivers, but they pose no danger to them. I cycle very safely, and I see crazy car drivers every day.

The lawsuit will be up to a court to decide - not us. However, if a moving vehicle comes up behind another moving vehicle and hits it - they are almost always at fault. Unless the truck driver can provide more information, but nothing has been provided by the CHP.

Like this comment
Posted by Luis
a resident of another community
on Feb 4, 2011 at 10:46 pm

I frequent this intersection on bike or in my car every day. I see dangerous moves made by cars on a frequent basis. The setup is so dangerous. Given the number of bikes that pass by a trail or overpass like the one on the Ralston Av. bike trail over 280 in San Mateo should be considered.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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