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Serious solo accident closes WB San Antonio

Original post made on Dec 17, 2010

A solo accident just before 6 a.m. today in which a man in his early 20s drove into a tree and light pole on San Antonio Road in Palo Alto caused a major traffic backup that spilled onto Highway 101, police reported. The driver is in surgery, although initial news reports were that the crash was a fatality.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, December 17, 2010, 8:42 AM

Comments (32)

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Posted by ashley
a resident of The Greenhouse
on Dec 17, 2010 at 9:13 am

where was he from? when do you give out the name?


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Posted by David
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 17, 2010 at 9:48 am

With this series of storms coming in the roadways will be slick. PLEASE SLOW DOWN!!!! Also, turn on your headlights and put down you freaking cell phone (yes, put it all the way down, out of your hand) and pay attention to driving.


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Posted by slow down
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 17, 2010 at 10:30 am

I agree with David. Slow down and pay attention. Turn off the cell phone when it is raining. And allow extra space between you and the car in front of you since your brakes don't work as well when wet.


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Posted by Tree hugger alert
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Dec 17, 2010 at 10:34 am

One question is also did the condition of the road (i.e. streets all crooked due to tree roots) play any role in the accident.
Obviously in Palo Alto trees are more important than people, so it has taken years for this issue to be dealt with--I know that some people were against removing the trees in other portions of San ANtonio Road and some are more concerned about the tree the victim hit than the victim himself.


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Posted by Dean
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 17, 2010 at 10:42 am

I just passed by the site the the accident, and the car is really really mangled. It is also very near an extremely bumpy, rough part of San Antonio road due to tree roots upsetting the pavement. This section of road really needs to be smoothed out and repaved.


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Posted by Toni
a resident of another community
on Dec 17, 2010 at 10:50 am

What type of car was it?


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Posted by M2
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 17, 2010 at 11:16 am

It was a 1996 Mustang


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Dec 17, 2010 at 11:31 am

"Obviously" people care more about trees? Really? Please stop the silliness. Palo Alto residents can care about people and trees at the same time -- and do.


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Posted by Saw the car
a resident of University South
on Dec 17, 2010 at 11:36 am


I saw the car - hard to believe anyone survived. NO WAY street conditions caused this - for this level of damage, speed had to have been a major contributor!


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Posted by slow down
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 17, 2010 at 11:37 am

Don't blame the tree. He must have been driving much too fast to wreck his car that badly.


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Posted by Dan
a resident of Southgate
on Dec 17, 2010 at 12:17 pm

Dear "Tree hugger alert";
Blaming a tree or a benevolent non-profit like Canopy for this man's injuries is disgusting. If he had hit a child, would you be blaming the child?


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Posted by Tree hugger alert
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Dec 17, 2010 at 12:53 pm

Dan--re-read my post. The cause of the accident is not yet known--the condition of San Antonio Road due to tree roots is well known. The way trees are treated in Palo Alto is well known. Let's see what the cause is and as I said the problems with San Antonio Road should have been dealt with a long time ago--yet Canopy/tree hugger lobby is against touching any tree in Palo Alto (look at the issues with the tree sin Pardee park as another example) Trees are more important than people in Palo Alto. end of story.


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Posted by Enough!
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Dec 17, 2010 at 12:55 pm

Mustangs, especially the GT's are fabulous cars, but are prone to hydroplaning on wet pavement.

Two 2006-7 Mustangs have gone off the road today in serious accidents.


Slowing down is essential when there is inclement weather.


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Posted by Stop speeding!
a resident of Los Altos
on Dec 17, 2010 at 1:08 pm

Saw the car this morning - the right front was completely compressed. Amazing amount of damage. Must have been going 60+ mph.


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Posted by mutti
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Dec 17, 2010 at 1:19 pm

If this was in front of Summerwinds nursery, I know exactly what caused it. I drove over those tree roots on Thursday and it about knocked my teeth out. And I was doing about 5 mph! There is a huge bump there.

Also, Why do the maps and Freeway signs say that San Antonio runs north/south? We all know it runs east from the Bay to West at Los Altos. I know, I know it really does run north/south. For the same reason that Los Angeles is east of Reno, and Central Expressway runs east/west while Alma runs north/south. We're all really on the diagonal and can't decide which way to 'skew'.


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Posted by p
a resident of Stanford
on Dec 17, 2010 at 1:40 pm

RIP to him ( yes i kno it says he didnt die..but he did)


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Dec 17, 2010 at 2:34 pm

Tree hugger alert -- still in the silliness mode I see. Because people want to protect the beauty of Palo Alto and our environment that means they are tree huggers? Or they don't care about people? I don't know any efforts by Canopy to block street repairs (as was done further up San Antonio and is working well with some replanting), or removal of dangerous trees. What some oppose is thoughtless removal of healthy trees that is not necessary or not replacing with reasonable alternatives when it is necessary. If tree roots are making any street dangerous, of course it needs to be addressed. Perhaps it wasn't fixed on this area of San Antonio because of budge problems vs. opposition from "tree huggers"? Don't know for sure, but that's just as credible as your theory.

I do hope this young man will survive. It looked horrible. Given the damage, it is likely that excessive speed was at least partially the cause; however, what is most important is that he and his family get the support they need to recover from the trauma of the accident. My best wishes to he and his loved ones.


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Posted by Janet
a resident of Mountain View
on Dec 17, 2010 at 2:39 pm

Sadly, removing roadside trees does not reduce likelihood of accidents because drivers tend to drive faster after the trees are removed. Of course, there are always drivers who speed. Based on the damage to this car I don't think he was driving below the limit of 35 mph...


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Posted by Tree hugger alert
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Dec 17, 2010 at 2:45 pm

Neighbor---
"What some oppose is thoughtless removal of healthy trees that is not necessary "

Web Link:
"Ten mature eucalyptus trees in Eleanor Pardee Park are in poor condition and should be removed, according to an independent arborist's report.
The City of Palo Alto hired the consultant to determine the safety and condition of four manna gums (Eucalyptus viminalis) and five blue gums (Eucalyptus globulus) that surround the children's play area.
Sixteen trees attracted attention after several large limbs suddenly crashed to the pavement in January, nearly striking a man who was strolling near the park.
Residents' groups have come out strongly on both sides of the issue, with some demanding removal of all 16 trees and others for their preservation.
Torrey Young, registered consulting arborist for Dryad LLC of Castro Valley, gave a presentation to about 25 residents on Sept. 23 at Lucie Stern Community Center regarding his findings. The conclusion: All 10 trees pose a hazard to residents and property and should be removed.
Most conditions cannot be remedied and stopgap measures are minimal, he said. The trees currently have a significant potential for failure of smaller limbs and branches and potential for larger limbs and stems to fail, he said."

I rest my case


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Posted by Jenny
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Dec 17, 2010 at 4:02 pm

The residents of south Palo Alto had a meeting last April with the Transportation Department. We were advised that the City would progress with the resurfacing of San Antonio Road this current year.

It hasn't happened because the whole process has to go through several stages. Redesign of the median, gas utility replacement project, removal of trees and roots, re-surfacing of roadbed etc.

The tree root bumps and overhanging tree limbs have got to the stage where people driving too fast cannot control their cars. The City has a huge liability here.

Meanwhile, San Antonio Road is the main truck route into Palo Alto. Truckers routinely turn up East Charleston, then left on Middlefield and return to San Antonio because the roadbed on San Antonio between East Charleston and Middlefield is too bumpy for trucks.


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 17, 2010 at 4:32 pm

I hope that we can all slow down, drive more safely and reduce distractions to good driving this winter season. This was an awful accident and I'm glad no one else was injured.

Today, going to Burlingame and back, traffic was insane, at midday. 101 was backed up, surface roads clogged, streets wet. I herd on the radio part of it was due to some police-involved situation on 101/Belmont. It took way too long to get home safely, but safely we arrived, and with gratitude.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 17, 2010 at 4:49 pm

We do not know if the road surface had anything to do with this accident, but it may have been one of many factors.

Regardless of this accident, this road surface has basically turned that part of San Antonio into one lane. I often drive along there needing to turn right to get into the gas station or onto Middlefield. It is horrendously bumpy and needs to be driven at about 10 mph to be safe. Those who drive regularly know to stay in the left lane or go very slowly. Those who do not know the road surface are likely to be taken unawares with how dangerous it is.

I suspect that the driver of this vehicle, whether he was driving too fast, distracted, or impaired, did not drive San Antonio regularly. In my opinion, this situation was an accident waiting to happen.


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Posted by Trees hater
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 17, 2010 at 5:19 pm

Trees are dirty, their sap leaves big stain spots on sidewalks, see for your self around Midtown.
Trees cause local flooding, with all the fallen leaves plugging up the storm drains.
Trees are damaging, their roots get into everything including sewer pipes, causing extensive damage and costly repairs and replacements.
Trees hurt or kill people (I myself had ran into a tree while skiing a few years ago and it nearly broke my back).


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Posted by Elwood Blues
a resident of Menlo Park
on Dec 17, 2010 at 5:42 pm

Elwood Blues is a registered user.

As I look back on some of the fatal and near-fatal accidents that have been reported over the last year or so, it is striking how many of them are in areas that have been known for quite some time to be dangerous; e.g.:

High-speed sections of El Camino in Atherton, esp. at pedestrian crosswalks
Alpine Road at 280 on-ramp where bicyclists must cross rightmost lane
And now San Antonio road, where apparently it was well-known that the road is in terrible condition.

I don't feel these are cases of 20/20 hindsight.

It would be great if whoever's in charge could be a little more proactive in fixing the known dangerous areas of our roadways.


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Posted by Jenny
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Dec 18, 2010 at 7:44 am

There have been two previous fatalities on San Antonio Road between Middlefield and Leghorn, both bicyclists. Now we have a third serious accident on that section of roadway - why hasn't it been repaired?

Resident says: "It is horrendously bumpy and needs to be driven at about 10 mph to be safe." It is also State law that says you may drive at 25 MPH along any street in California unless otherwise posted. What amazes me is that the State highway regulatory agency has allowed Palo Alto to get away with ignoring the condition of a designated truck route for so long.

This section of San Antonio has been in a deteriorated condition for more than four years, and our City does nothing about it. Could you imagine the residents near either University Avenue or Oregon Expressway putting up with such dangerous conditions on their streets?

Incidentally, San Antonio Road is number 89 on the Blue Ribbon Infrastructure Committee's list of infrastructure needs, which gives you some indication of it's importance to the City!!


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Posted by Tree hugger alert
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Dec 18, 2010 at 9:35 am

Jenny--none of the cities movers and shakers live in that area, nor is it in College Terrace or Chraleston Meadow--so it is ignored.


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Dec 18, 2010 at 1:49 pm

Tree hugger alert -- you cite one incident and conclude ALL Palo Alto residents are the same. Yes, there are unreasonable people everywhere (MV, RC, PV, MP, etc.) who may not have their priorities straight, but in the incident you describe, there were also many people who supported removal of the trees. Interesting that you focus only on those you believe were unreasonable without acknowledging those who saw safety as paramount. Just saying....


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Posted by a friend
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Dec 19, 2010 at 2:59 am

...may it be the weather, the tree root bumps, the over hanging limbs, or wet leaves. He may be over speeding or driving 10mph... hearing the news and seeing the photos are really horrifying. But will it be possible for me to ask you a big favor? offer a prayer for this man tonight or tomorrow or even when you pass by San Antonio Road or whenever you get a chance. He is still alive and still fighting to live. Reading all your comments shows your concerns of everything involve in this accident. One prayer for this friend of mine is all I ask from you. I respect what faith/religion you have or what you believe in...just say "let this man live his second life" will surely make a difference. I thank you all for that! -his dear friend-


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 19, 2010 at 8:39 am

Definitely agree with Friend.

Please keep us updated on his condition and how his family is doing.


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Posted by Bad news
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 20, 2010 at 11:54 am

I think the person who had an accident at San Antonio died because I see flowers at the tree where he crashed. When people take flowers it is pretty much a sign that a person die. I wish they would update the news. It it is true, this will be the second person to die in a week.


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Posted by Friend
a resident of another community
on Dec 21, 2010 at 9:43 am

He is not dead. I know because I am a family friend. He is fighthing for his life right now and I agree with another friend of ours for people to just pray and our friend be given a second chance to live. He is a nice, responsible kid. Whether it is the tree root, or speeding, or whatever caused it, just pray for his survival. There is nothing we can do at this time. Your comments about those trees are just outrageous. Trees can be replaced by planting another one. Life of a person cannot be replaced. Please be sensitive.


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Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Meadow Park
on Dec 21, 2010 at 10:10 am

I'm so sorry your friend has been seriously injured along that stretch of San Antonio Road. It is a disgrace that a City as wealthy as Palo Alto cannot maintain a through street and designated truck route in better condition.

If it is found that the bumps caused by the tree roots were in any way responsible for this young man to lose control of his car, I hope he finds Palo Alto legally responsible for his accident. This may be the only way we are ever going to get the City to take responsibility and repair San Antonio Road.


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