A car that slid on a rain-slicked road fell into the Birch Street garage near California Avenue and crashed into a new Mercedes Benz Wednesday morning, March 14. The driver of the Toyota was trapped in her vehicle, Palo Alto Fire Battalion Chief Chris Woodard said.
A woman in her 70s driving a light-colored older-model Toyota Corolla was negotiating the turn from Oregon Expressway around 11 a.m. when her vehicle skidded on the curve, Palo Alto police said. The car struck two yellow road signs in the median before swerving across the roadway and plunging through the shrubbery and over the below-street-level garage wall.
Police said the parked car, a black Mercedes, broke the Toyota's fall and prevented it from flipping onto its roof. The driver of the Toyota was not injured and no one was in the Mercedes at the time of the crash.
Woodard said the rear wheels of the Toyota rested on the brick retaining wall, and the nose of the car had gone into the windshield of the Mercedes. The roof of the Mercedes was observed to be mashed down nearly to the top of the door on the passenger side.
Palo Alto fire and emergency personnel blocked the entrance to Birch from Oregon Expressway while the Toyota was lifted back up to the road. The vehicle was secured with chains and a rope and the driver was extricated with a ladder. Damage totals are unknown, but one vehicle was a total loss, Woodard said.
It was the second vehicle to have plunged into the partially sunken garage in three months, and the structure's property manager wants the city to do something about the hazard.
Hensel Troche, the garage property manager, said there have been six crashes in the six years he has worked there.
"The city should be asked to get a railing or something," he said.
On Dec. 29, 2011, a Ford Mustang skidded on the wet roadway and plunged several feet into the same section of the garage, landing on its roof.
The male driver in his 20s said he was returning home from work at about 3 a.m. and had exited westbound Oregon Expressway toward California Avenue. As he rounded a curve his vehicle slid on the slick roadbed, hit a curb and some shrubbery and flipped into the garage.
The man, who asked to remain anonymous, said he was not injured and was saved by his airbag. Emergency personnel at the scene said a cement pillar stopped the vehicle's momentum.
The curve has only a small line of low shrubs and a low curb between the roadway and the garage. City Chief Transportation Official Jaime Rodriguez said Wednesday, March 14, that the department had been notified of the crash by police.
He said he was contacting personnel in the Public Works department to identify what projects are lined up for that area, presumably to possibly piggy-back a barrier or some other restraint along the stretch of road. Rodriguez said he would contact the Weekly with more information next week.