A bread truck hit a man who was lying in the middle of University Avenue in downtown Palo Alto at 2:29 a.m. Wednesday morning, police reported.
Ralph Ortiz, 53, of San Jose walked into the westbound lane of the 300 block of University Avenue and lay down behind a cement planter box that someone had pushed into the middle of the street, a male witness told police.
Police Lt. Sandra Brown said the witness reported that Ortiz appeared to drink a beer in front of the Medallion Rug Gallery, then walked into the street and lay against the planter box, hidden from view of the oncoming van driver.
The witness tried to warn the van driver that a man was lying in the road, but the van crashed into the cement box and ran over Ortiz, Brown said.
Police do not know who pushed the box into the street but assume it was Ortiz, Brown said. He was taken to Stanford Medical Center with head injuries and was in stable condition as of Wednesday afternoon, communicating with his doctors, she said.
There is no indication that Ortiz was attempting suicide, Brown said. Police have not determined whether the man is homeless, she said.
The van driver was not injured.