Police: Motorist who struck pedestrians had suspended license | December 19, 2012 | Almanac | Almanac Online |



News - December 19, 2012

Police: Motorist who struck pedestrians had suspended license

• Driver said he was unaware that license was suspended.

by Renee Batti

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 shows 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 said they 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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