Driver not at fault in bicycle fatality, CHP says | July 4, 2007 | Almanac | Almanac Online |


News - July 4, 2007

Driver not at fault in bicycle fatality, CHP says

• Bicyclist Rodney Smith turned into a traffic lane, CHP reports.

by David Boyce

The Sand Hill Road traffic accident that killed bicyclist and Portola Valley resident Rodney Smith apparently happened as a result of Mr. Smith turning from the eastbound bike lane out into the path of an eastbound car traveling at about 35 mph, the California Highway Patrol reported Wednesday.

A CHP investigation concluded that Mr. Smith, 67, "was making a U turn" and was at fault in the May 25 accident, CHP Officer Eric Parsons said. The accident occurred along Sand Hill Road between Whiskey Hill Road and the Interstate 280 interchange.

The car's driver, Woodside resident Anthony L. Rose, 87, is not being charged.

Mr. Smith, a former chief executive officer and president of San Jose-based Altera Corp., was wearing a bicycle helmet, CHP Officer Grace Castillo said.

He and his wife had donated $1 million to the town of Portola Valley's open space fund. They were also active in efforts to rid the town's roads of litter.

The cause of death was multiple traumatic injuries, according to the San Mateo County Coroner's Office. Mr. Rose was not injured.

The damage to Mr. Rose's green Volvo indicated a substantial impact.

Damages to the car included a broken right headlight lens, a large basketball-sized dent in the right front quarter panel, a "large" hole in the passenger side windshield, and a dent in the roof above that hole, the CHP said. The car was towed from the scene.

The hood had black scuff marks, possibly made by the handlebars on Mr. Smith's bicycle. Damages to the bike included a detached front wheel and a broken front fork, the CHP said.

Mr. Smith was found 46 feet and his bike 74 feet from the point at which the vehicle came to rest, the CHP said.


In a May 30 story on the accident, the Almanac reported that the Smiths had given $1 million to the town's open space fund in an effort to clean up litter in town. Local residents who are familiar with the donation say the donation was not tied to the Smiths' interest in ridding the town of roadside litter.

The Almanac was unable to reach Ms. Smith for comment.


Like this comment
Posted by Chris, Biker & Driver
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jul 3, 2007 at 4:28 pm

It would be of service to the bicycling and driving community if the staff of the Almanac would spend the time and money ($10 bucks ?) to get the CHP report and write a complete update on this tragic accident. Another clarification statement could be added above, as the Almanac's June Editorial column falsely that stated the driver "hit the cyclist from behind". This could now also be corrected by stating the hard evidence that negates that assumption. Why is the paper so relaxed about filing a complete and updated article with facts now present?

Because misinformation is remaining as fact, this paper does a disservice to it's community and fails to educate cyclists on the evidence (hard evidence) that eliminates driver error in the cause of this accident and could serve as a source of good preventative information.

Instead, the paper runs a half-researched story that once again makes cyclists infailable, "older" car drivers irresponsible and negligent and leaves enough "grey areas" of information that nobody will learn the hard and valuable lessons from this tragic accident.

I guess that sells more papers.

Like this comment
Posted by David Boyce
Almanac staff writer
on Jul 3, 2007 at 5:10 pm

David Boyce is a registered user.

The Almanac requested a copy of the CHP report on the accidental death of Rodney Smith but was told that such reports are not public information, a claim that has been been verified to be true by a reliable second source.

The facts in the story reflect CHP responses to the Almanac's questions, some of which the CHP chose not to answer.