Sunday, March 9, 2008

Today - Two More by Car, Cop Car..... sad

Two bicyclists were killed when a Santa Clara County sheriff's patrol car going around a blind curve crossed the double-yellow line on Stevens Canyon Road in Cupertino and struck them shortly before 10:30 a.m. today, authorities said.
A third cyclist was seriously injured and is being treated at Stanford Medical Center. A fourth cyclist in the group was unhurt.
The identities of the dead and injured cyclists and the deputy involved were not immediately released. CHP officer Todd Thibodeau said a 29-year-old San Francisco man died at the scene and a 30-year-old Oakland woman died as she was being flown to Stanford Medical Center. A 20-year-old man was injured, he said.
The deputy has been with the force for about a year and half, Sgt. Don Morrissey said. He was driving north on Stevens Canyon Road near Montebello Road when he crossed the center line on the narrow road and hit the three cyclists, who were riding south.
The deputy called for help and got out his car to perform CPR on the fallen cyclists, Morrissey said. The deputy will be placed on routine administrative leave pending an investigation by the CHP.
"He's taking it very hard," Morrissey said. "The whole department is saddened."
Thousands of cyclists cruise the winding road leading to Stevens Creek Reservoir, cyclist Steve Paterson, 49, of Cupertino said, as he was turned away from a road block near Ricardo Road set up because of the crash.
"There are so many rides up here," he said.

"Club rides, sponsored rides, groups of friends."
It's unclear if the four cyclists involved in the crash were riding as part of larger group, but Morrissey said they may have been doing a training ride.
Other cyclists noted that riders in large groups will sometimes ride two-abreast. The practice is not illegal but can be extremely dangerous on narrow, winding roads with a large amount of traffic. It was unclear if the cyclists involved in this crash were doing so.
"I've seen bicyclists who ride crazy and I've seen cars that go too fast," Paterson said.
The opportunities for hill climbing and downhill coasting, as well as a roadway cleared of much debris make the area tempting for cyclists. Today's beautiful weather brought out scores of riders.
"It's spring and everyone is ready to get out and go for a ride," said Mike Riepe, of San Jose, hitting the road after hauling his mountain bike up a trail.
But blind turns like the one near the crash site make him nervous, Riepe said.
In 1996, cyclists Jeffrey Steinwedel, 46, died on Stevens Canyon Road just up the road from today's crash, when a quarry driver struck him as he took a winter ride. The driver, Jon Nisby, was sentenced to a year in jail.
The last time a Santa Clara County sheriff's deputy was involved in a fatal car crash was in 1994. A deputy trying to keep a suspect from running struck and killed the man near the intersection of West San Carlos and Bascom Avenue.
While a Santa Clara County District Attorney's office probe of the incident found the deputy had been driving improperly, it cleared him of violating any laws.
Deputies can drive as much as 200 miles a shift, Morrissey said.
The CHP is asking anyone who witnessed the crash to call (408) 467-5354, ext. 337.

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