Police: Motorist who struck pedestrians on El Camino was driving on suspended license

Driver said he was unaware that license was suspended

The 89-year-old driver of a vehicle that struck and seriously injured two pedestrians in an El Camino Real crosswalk in Atherton on Sept. 30 was driving with a license that had been suspended two months earlier after he was diagnosed with a disability, according to the Atherton Police Department report on the incident.

Willie Haynes of Palo Alto was returning home from church in Redwood City at around noon that Sunday when the Chevy Blazer he was driving struck Namita Nalin Dalal, 47, of Atherton, and her sister, Rupal Ria Dalal, 45, of Mountain View, in the crosswalk where the six-lane El Camino intersects with Isabella Avenue. There is no signal at the intersection.

The police report indicates that Mr. Haynes was traveling at 48 mph up to two seconds before the collision, slowing to 37 mph a second before striking the women. The speed limit is 35 mph.

The women were rushed to the hospital with major injuries, but survived.

Mr. Haynes and his wife, who also spoke with police, said Mr. Haynes was unaware that his license had been suspended. They said the Department of Motor Vehicles had sent a letter to him after his medical provider informed the state agency of Mr. Haynes' disability last June, but they told police they believed the letter was merely to inform him of a hearing date to review his driver's license status, the report said.

Mr. Haynes told police he saw the two women in the crosswalk, but that "it looked as if they were going to stop (walking) for him to continue," according to the report. The driver "did not expect them to walk out in front of him," the report said.

After striking the two women, Mr. Haynes remained on the scene, and voluntarily submitted to a blood test for drugs and alcohol.

The women were walking east in the crosswalk, apparently returning from downtown Menlo Park. Neither woman remembered the collision when interviewed by police, but details of the police investigation suggest that they were returning from Starbucks in downtown Menlo Park.

The case has been forwarded to the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office for review, but the police department is not recommending that criminal charges be filed against Mr. Haynes, according to Police Lt. Joe Wade.


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Posted by reckless driving is not an accident
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Dec 11, 2012 at 11:45 pm

Speeding + no license + poor driving judgement + multiple serious injuries to innocent victims = throw the book at him

I hope the victims are recovering well. Is the driver paying for their medical care?

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Posted by Menlo Park
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Dec 12, 2012 at 12:08 pm

It sure seems that too many incapable elderly drivers have a difficult time understanding when it's time to stop driving because their driving has become a hazard to others. My own grandfather had a hard time accepting that and we (the family) forced him to stop driving before he could hurt anyone.

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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Dec 12, 2012 at 12:55 pm

CHURCH! He was driving to & from church after having his license suspended due to a disability. Many churches offer rides to those who can't drive - too bad this guy didn't try to figure out an alternative.

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Posted by SteveC
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Dec 12, 2012 at 3:10 pm

SteveC is a registered user.

I was very luck, my Mom and Dad decided on their own that they didn't think they should drive any longer. I am very happy that I didn't have to make the decision for them. Of course, now I need to take them to medical appoints ect. I do not mind at all!

Like this comment
Posted by Donald
a resident of another community
on Dec 12, 2012 at 8:52 pm

The three legs of the traffic safety tripod are engineering, enforcement and education. You can't get good results without a balance of all three. Recent posts on this forum indicate that people expect engineering solutions alone to solve the problem, but that won't work as long as dangerously incompetent drivers like this are on the road. We also need more enforcement and stricter testing and licensing requirements (DMV letters written in plain English that non-lawyers can understand would also help).

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

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