Hit-and-run driver knocks out power to 1,400 in Atherton and Menlo Park


Power went out in an area near Bay Road in Menlo Park, including the Lindenwood neighborhood of Atherton, early Saturday morning, Atherton police said, after a hit-and-run driver struck a power pole on Bay Road just north of Ringwood Avenue at about 2:30 a.m. on Jan. 31.

Police said the speeding vehicle, described as a gray Lexus, had extensive damage, but the driver was able to leave the scene before police and fire personnel responded.

The Menlo Park Police Department is leading the investigation into the accident.

Palo Alto Police Department spokesman Zachary Perron said a Palo Alto officer "observed the vehicle driving erratically in our city, followed it, and eventually attempted to make a stop in Menlo Park." Lt. Perron said that when police car's lights were activated, "the car took off at a high rate of speed, " but the officer did not pursue. "A few minutes later, the collision was reported," he said.

Menlo Park Police Department spokeswoman Nicole Acker said a neighbor reported the accident. "When our officers arrived at the scene, the driver had already fled the area," she said.

"Officers located one of the registered owners of the vehicle at his residence in Menlo Park and observed that he had injuries that were consistent with being involved in a traffic collision," Ms. Acker said. The man was taken to Stanford Hospital, she said.

"The cause of the collision is under investigation," she said, and may be forwarded to the district attorney's office for possible prosecution.

No charges have been made in the case, and the police are not releasing the name of the car's driver, Ms. Acker said.

"At this time, there are no known witnesses to the collision. Menlo Park police are asking anyone with information regarding this incident to call 650-330-6300," Ms. Acker said.

Pacific Gas and Electric said Monday that 1,400 people were affected by the power outage. About half had their power restored by 4 p.m. and the rest by 7 p.m., the spokesperson said. The wooden utility pole, a fairly new and reinforced model, was sheared in two, he said.

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Like this comment
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 31, 2015 at 9:01 pm

Does that mean the car drove away?

18 people like this
Posted by Witness
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Feb 1, 2015 at 2:41 am

@Neighbor, he did not drive away. The car was demolished and ended up in a smoking heap in the front yard on the Lindenwood side of Bay Road after having taken out a swath of landscaping.

The property owner described the scene in his yard as a "debris field." He also said the police told him the doors were jammed shut and the driver escaped through the trunk. According to the police, the driver lived in the neighborhood, walked/ran home bloodied, and called an ambulance. The police easily tracked him down from the registration of the car. He was DUI according to the property owner relaying the report from the police.

One of the PG&E workers on the scene said the driver must have been going "really fast" because the telephone pole he hit and sheared from its base was the second most heavy-duty pole they have in their inventory. The pole was not just leaning over, but hanging from the wires. The driver obviously ran the stop sign at Bay and Ringwood at high speed, Light skid marks lead straight to the destroyed telephone pole.

The cheeky PG&E workers nailed the grill of the Lexus about 15 feet up on the replacement pole. It's a great reminder not drink and drive like this idiot who was lucky to escape with his life and not kill anyone.

Something similar happened about 50 yards away around the corner on Ringwood about 6 months ago. They should have done the same thing with that car's grill.

Please be safe out there, everyone.

2 people like this
Posted by lessons learned
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Feb 1, 2015 at 6:56 pm

lessons learned is a registered user.

We had no power a few miles from there, so I bet it was way more than 300 households. That stretch of Bay scares me because it is tempting to speed and there's no room for error on the Lindenwood side. Good thing no one else got hurt.

2 people like this
Posted by Robert
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Feb 2, 2015 at 10:18 am

Robert is a registered user.

@witness - thank you. Partial information is so hard to understand - it is nice to see additional details. BTW - I agree - the grill up on the pole is a great reminder and one hopes they publish the name of the driver.

Like this comment
Posted by options
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 2, 2015 at 8:03 pm

Hit_and-run should be reserved for when a person drives away. If some person is able to escape through the trunk of a demolished vehicle, I hope that person would run to the nearest phone and get to a hospital. Unless @witness has the toxicology report, we have no way of knowing if the driver of the Lexus was simply run off the road by a drunk driver. Further, I cannot imaging that it is legal to attach automobile parts to a power pole. If the grill of a Lexus falls from the sky onto a small child, that will be a problem.

5 people like this
Posted by Tunbridge Wells
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Feb 3, 2015 at 9:36 am

Tunbridge Wells is a registered user.

"Hit_and-run should be reserved for when a person drives away. "

Why? Leaving the scene of the accident is the problem, not the fact that he left on foot. If he had been run off the road by another driver, why leave the scene? The vast majority of people have cell phones, no need to go home to get help. Furthermore, simple physics suggests that the car had to be traveling very fast in order to do that much damage to the pole. He was driving too fast and left the scene. That much is beyond dispute.

4 people like this
Posted by Robert
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Feb 3, 2015 at 10:13 am

Robert is a registered user.

@ Options - It is very clear you have never seen a drunk driving accident nor been a victim of one based on your comment. I have no respect nor any sympathy for a drunk driver. In fact, I hate drunk drivers. I think that your open stance on possible drunk driving is beyond the course of acceptable. There is no evidence at all that suggest this was not drunk driving. I could care less if he was run off the road or otherwise - the fact that he/she elected to get in a car and drive with any alcohol in their system is beyond acceptable. The fact that they crashed - reason or not, should not excuse the fact that they were drunk. I wish in every case their picture and name were posted - I am guessing that the drunk driving would drop dramatically

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