News


Teacher blames fatal accident on sun glare

East Palo Alto girl, 6, killed while in crosswalk Sept. 28

A teacher who struck and killed a 6-year-old East Palo Alto girl in a crosswalk on Sept. 28 told police that sun glare prevented her from seeing the girl, Sioreli Torres Zamora.

Alisha Whiteparker, the teacher who was driving to her job at a nearby elementary school, told police at the scene that glare across her windshield had blinded her when she struck the little girl. The girl was crossing Bay Road at Gloria Way while on her way to school.

East Palo Alto Police Chief Ron Davis said it was the second car accident involving a child in which a driver blamed the sun.

A 29-year-old man struck and injured an 8-year-old boy at the same intersection six months ago. That accident occurred at 7:33 a.m. -- 20 minutes earlier than the accident that killed Sioreli, Davis said.

Police did not charge the man in that case, Davis said. The boy was in a body cast for two months.

But Davis stressed that because Sioreli was killed, police are looking closely at the incident to decide if any charges should be filed.

"We have to look at how fast the driver was going and if there were other distractions," he said. Just because the speed limit is 25 mph doesn't mean that a driver should be going that speed, he added. Drivers must consider road conditions -- including glare -- and they have to change their speed to accommodate those conditions, Davis said.

"If you are going 25 mph, clearly you have to slow down," he said.

Police have not completed their investigation into Sioreli's death and plan a follow-up interview with Whiteparker, Davis said.

The case will be turned over to the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office for consideration of any possible charges against her.

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by sad
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Oct 24, 2011 at 1:28 pm

This story made me so sad to hear. The same thing happened when I was a kid growing up in Redwood Shores over 20 years ago. A young schoolgirl was struck and killed because the driver couldn't see through her windshield for a few moments when the sun caused a glare in the morning. It seems that it is an accident but is a reminder that walking can be so dangerous and you have to be always aware.

My heart goes out to the girl's family and the teacher...


Like this comment
Posted by Frequent pedestrian
a resident of Atherton: other
on Oct 24, 2011 at 2:12 pm

It makes you wonder if it's safe to have crosswalks without a traffic light anymore, like the ones on el camino real. If there was a stoplight for each crosswalk, presumably motorists could see a red light and stop. Often a mid-block crosswalk is felt to be optional for drivers.. Same thing with the glare causing an accident happened to the mayor in the town where I grew up, but he was not going fast enough to seriously harm anybody, thankfully.


Like this comment
Posted by Slow down
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 25, 2011 at 12:45 pm

Drivers: if you can't see due to sun glare, SLOW DOWN. Sun glare may be the driver's excuse, but there is no excuse for not proceeding with extreme caution and continuing to go fast enough to run over and kill a child. My heart goes out to both the family and the driver, whom I hope has learned a valuable driving lesson.

Another plea to drivers: when you see a car next to you stop at a crosswalk, please also stop. I have seen many near misses on Santa Cruz Avenue and Woodside Road where one car stops for a pedestrian but the car in the next lane over does not. Pedestrians beware!

As a mother of children who are starting to embark out on their own, my biggest fear continues to be multi-tasking drivers and drivers who don't take road conditions into account.


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