Alcohol may have been factor in fatal crash


Alcohol and excessive speed may have been a factor in a late-night car crash in Portola Valley Thursday that took the life of a 19-year-old Redwood City man, the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office said.

Just before 11:30 p.m. county dispatchers received reports of "the sound of a large crash" in the 800 block of Portola Road, the sheriff's office reported. Upon arrival deputies found that a black BMW had crashed into a tree.

The 19-year-old driver was taken to a local hospital with multiple fractures and other trauma.

The passenger, Robert Wetzel, was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident, San Mateo County Coroner Robert Foucrault said.

The San Mateo County Sheriff's Office is investigating the cause of the crash, as well as the activities and whereabouts of the two men before the collision.

— Bay City News Service


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Posted by Tom Alciere
a resident of another community
on Jun 14, 2008 at 6:40 am

Lauren Berglund was 20 when she was killed by a drunk driver, 40, in Boulder Creek, 14 May 2007. Rebecca Siebenmorgen was 19 when she was killed by a high driver, age 47. Brittanya Metchelle Nash was 17 and Shanice Patrice Carter was 18 when they were killed by Roberto Vellanoweth, 63. Young folks are the VICTIMS of older drunk drivers because efforts focus on preventing underage drinking instead of punishing the guilty, the drunk drivers. Don't punish 19-year-olds because this one committed a crime. Punish the drunk drivers.

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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 14, 2008 at 8:45 am


I agree with everything you write.

But, I would go further. Young drivers are much more vulnerable because they haven't gained the experience that comes with years of driving. Young drivers feel that because they have passed a test they are able to get themselves out of any situation and know what to do.

Unfortunately, this is not the case. It doesn't take very much effort for a 16 year old to learn how to move the car and how to drive in traffic when everyone is obeying the rules that should be obeyed. What they need to learn is that there are idiots out there on the roads and it is much better to avoid the idiots when they see them and to drive defensively. Many think that they will not have an accident because they are obeying the rules. What they don't think about is that it usually takes two to crash and it is better not to be one of those drivers even if you are the innocent party.

Our methods of teaching teenagers to drive is pretty pathetic. When teens start driving at 15 1/2 they are very immature. When they pass their tests and get their licences, they are still pretty immature. They need to have a big red sign on them saying, "danger I am a rookie driver and I may make a mistake - particularly if you do something wrong".

I am not blaming the drivers, just the system. It is time that lawmakers tighten up the rules allowing teens to get behind the wheel.

And lastly, I am not saying that the young people you mention in your post were at fault at all, I have no idea of the details. I would just like to see more young people protected from idiots on the road. It is easy to punish a drunk driver for killing at teenager. I would prefer the accident to have not happened in the first place. You can't bring back the life of someone killed in a crash.

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Posted by Lauren Tyson, Retired Peace Officer, ABC
a resident of another community
on Jun 14, 2008 at 7:36 pm

The solution is a comprehensive approach. Communities, the government, and the alcohol industry all have a role to play in preventing drunk driving by both youth and adults. Youth and adults are both victims and perpetrators. You can't always control the individual drinker, but you can control those factors that contribute to either underage drinking by minors--or excessive consumption by adults. For example, bars and restaurants should have written alcohol management policies that spell out things such as drink limits, when I.D. will be checked on patrons, and what will be done with patrons who become intoxicated. Just my short answer to a huge problem.

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Posted by Tom Alciere
a resident of another community
on Jun 16, 2008 at 5:31 pm

<<when I.D. will be checked on patrons,

The government does not own the outvoted discrimination victims and has no right to impose the drinking age on them against their will. In a free country, the citizen would decide what to eat and drink.

Fight drunk driving. Web Link

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Posted by nicole
a resident of Portola Valley
on Jun 16, 2008 at 5:52 pm

so tom are you saying that this boy who was murdered down the street from where I live is less dead than if an older person took the wheel. he should be held responsible regardless of age because the end result is that a kid is DEAD and he was the one responsible. Allowing kids to get away with murder is the problem in our society. Punish Keith and hopefully he and others can learn from his mistakes; since Robert can not learn anything from here on out.

Like this comment
Posted by kelly
a resident of Portola Valley
on Feb 10, 2009 at 7:26 pm


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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