The Nov. 4 fatal collision of a bicyclist with the left side of a tractor-trailer at the Alpine Road/Interstate 280 interchange was the second time in a little over three years that the driver and that truck had been involved in such an incident.
In August 2007, a bicyclist died as a result of a collision with the right side of the truck at an intersection in the city of Santa Cruz.
In both cases, the driver of the truck was Gabriel Manzur Vera, 44, who was driving for the same employer: Monterey-based demolition contractor Randazzo Enterprises.
In the Nov. 4 incident, Los Altos Hills cyclist Lauren Perdriau Ward, 47, died after colliding with Vera's truck as he was headed onto the southbound I-280. Investigators from the California Highway Patrol have not yet determined what happened.
"That's very unfortunate, same driver, similar situation," CHP Officer Art Montiel said in an interview.
In the Santa Cruz incident, a video originating either from a surveillance or street camera showed that Vera was not at fault, Montiel said. A call to the Santa Cruz Police Department has not yet been returned.
Ward's family is apparently considering legal action and has retained San Francisco-based attorney John Feder, of the firm Rouda Feder & Tietjen.
In a brief interview, Feder said it was clear that Vera had been inattentive in the 2007 incident and that the ensuing lawsuit, which ended in a settlement, proved it. "His sworn testimony under oath indicated that he was, in fact, at fault," Feder said.
The new case will look at whether this accident was preventable, Feder said, but noted the importance of the CHP determining what happened.
Witnesses, if there are any, have not yet come forward, Montiel of the CHP said.
The fact that Vera was involved in a similar accident in the past does not automatically trigger an investigation into his driving habits, Montiel said. If he had been found at fault in 2007, then investigators would look for similarities.
In the Nov. 4 incident, the truck was found to be in its own lane and preparing to make a right turn onto the freeway; investigators found nothing to indicate a leftward turn into the cyclist, he said.
Does the configuration of this particular truck warrant special precautions? "There's really only so much (drivers) can do," Montiel said. Cyclists and operators of other small vehicles should take it upon themselves to make sure they are seen, he said.
The signs commonly found on trucks, "If you can't see me, I can't see you," should be taken seriously, he said.