News

Settlement reached in death of East Palo Alto child

City settles with family for $125,000

The City of East Palo Alto has settled a lawsuit filed by the parents of a 6-year-old girl who was killed in a crosswalk while going to school in 2011.

The parents of Sioreli Torres Zamora settled the lawsuit against East Palo Alto on March 18 for $125,000, according to court documents. San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Steven Dylina has accepted the settlement. The driver who struck and killed Sioreli, schoolteacher Fern Alisha White- Parker, is not part of the settlement.

White-Parker was driving to her job at Costano Elementary School when the accident occurred Sept. 28, 2011. She told police at the time that she was blinded by sun glare on her windshield. The San Mateo County District Attorney's Office did not press charges against White-Parker.

The little girl's mother and two younger siblings were steps away and witnessed her death. Her parents, Guadalupe Zamora Medina and Gabriel Torres Aguilar, filed a wrongful-death lawsuit on May 2, 2012, alleging that the city had maintained a dangerous condition on public property that caused negligent infliction of emotional distress on the parents.

Sioreli's mother suffered "negligent infliction of emotional distress" when she witnessed her daughter's injuries and saw the little girl dying in front of her, the suit alleged. She has continued to suffer "great physical and mental pain and suffering," and has needed medical and professional care as a result of the incident, and will continue to incur medical expenses for an indefinite period of time, according to the complaint.

The same crosswalk where Sioreli died at Gloria Way and Bay Road was also the scene of another serious accident six months prior to her death. A car struck a 8-year-old boy, who suffered injuries that put him in a body cast.

A 2010 city-commissioned pedestrian-safety report published just one year prior to Sioreli's death noted the Bay Road and Gloria Way intersection had the most vehicle-pedestrian accidents in the city -- four -- between 2005 and 2009.

Four of the city's most dangerous intersections for pedestrians are along Bay Road, according to the study, conducted by the University of California, Berkeley Institute of Transportation Studies.

Based on a 2008 California Office of Traffic Safety report of safety rankings of California cities, East Palo Alto ranked third out of 97 California cities in the same population group for the "number of collisions involving pedestrians," with first being the worst and 97th the best.

The UC-Berkeley study suggested the city consider establishing 15 mph school zones, and include criteria for installing crosswalk enhancements, such as flashing beacons, in-roadway warning lights, or in-roadway pedestrian signs at crosswalks; and hire or identify traffic-safety officers that would be dedicated to a local school during the morning and afternoon drop-off and pick-up periods.

On Nov. 29, 2012, the East Palo Alto City Council voted not to add a stop sign at the intersection, but the council approved flashing LED signs and pavement warnings for drivers to slow down.

White-Parker filed a cross-complaint against the city alleging it was partially responsible for the accident. She asked the court to indemnify her against any settlement and to contribute top any judgment against her. White-Parker agreed to the settlement between the city and Sioreli's parents.

Comments

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Posted by Stretch
a resident of another community
on Apr 9, 2014 at 10:35 am

Can someone explain to me how the driver is not responsible for killing this little girl? The sunlight in the eyes would be a mitigating factor, which would require such steps as slowing down, using a visor or glasses, or pulling over and stopping if a person can't see. Sloppy driving is no excuse for killing someone, and most people who do so are either impaired in some way or flat out in a hurry. Arrest that crosswalk,h


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Posted by So Sad
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 9, 2014 at 10:52 am

well said stretch.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by parent
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 9, 2014 at 10:54 am

After 2 tragedies at the same crosswalk, has the city done anything to fix it?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 9, 2014 at 10:58 am

Hmmm is a registered user.

Stretch - I still don't get it. I understand that sun glare is awful and can hit suddenly. Many a time, I've pulled over due to this problem, and many a time I've slowed down to a crawl. She *was* in a hurry, and I still don't understand why there's no stop sign there. I recall it had something to do w/the studies, but it's hard to imagine that the stop sign wouldn't be effective.

When I've recently driven this part of the road, I've found drivers have slowed down and are more cautious. It just took a death and a serious injury to change things. But have they really changed, for the long term?

People Behaving Badly at this intersection: Web Link


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Posted by Palo Altan
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 9, 2014 at 11:09 am

Thanks for the video, Hmmm. Appalling drivers. I think a death warrants a stop sign. From what I know, it takes a death before something is corrected. [Portion removed.] $125,000 is an appalling settlement for the death of a child - it should be at least a million. Again, as usual, a high-paid attorney would have helped secure more.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 9, 2014 at 2:18 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


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