Foothill-crash couple remain in critical condition

Collision temporarily closed southbound lanes of Foothill Expressway

A man and woman in their late 70s remained in critical condition at Stanford Hospital Tuesday (Dec. 28) after their vehicle crashed into a tree along Foothill Expressway Monday morning, police reported.

The crash was reported at 10:27 a.m., approximately 100 feet south of Page Mill Road in Palo Alto and caused the closure of southbound lanes on Foothill.

Fire personnel extracted the female driver from the vehicle, Palo Alto Police Agent Kara Salazar said.

The driver drifted from the number two southbound (right) lane into the number one southbound (left) lane, colliding with another vehicle, according to witnesses. The female driver's gray Toyota Avalon sedan rebounded from the initial crash and exited off the right-hand shoulder of the roadway, striking the tree head-on.

It took Palo Alto fire personnel approximately 40 minutes to free both occupants from the vehicle using the Jaws of Life, according to Salazar.

The Palo Alto Police Department STAR Team is investigating the crash. Anyone who might have witnessed the collision is asked to contact the police department at 650-329-2413.

What is community worth to you?
Support local journalism.


Like this comment
Posted by Curious
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 28, 2010 at 10:44 am

I hope for speedy and complete recovery for the man and woman who were in the right lane and crashed into the tree. What happened to the driver of the car in the left lane that was in the collision and was apparently not at fault in the accident?

Like this comment
Posted by not injured
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 28, 2010 at 10:47 am

The Mercury-News says the driver of the other car was not injured.

Like this comment
Posted by sometime cyclist
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Dec 28, 2010 at 10:54 am

Glad there were no bicylists in the road at the time. I do hope that the couple will recover--and can only wonder if there was a medical reason for the accident? I think of my late in-laws and the fender benders they had before driving was no longer an option.

Like this comment
Posted by Insight
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 28, 2010 at 12:51 pm

That's a bad section because the lanes shift at that point and drivers in the right lane frequently drift into the left. CALTRANS should fix it.

Like this comment
Posted by Experienced Cyclist
a resident of Community Center
on Dec 28, 2010 at 2:23 pm

Dear Insight,

I think you must be thinking of some other stretch of road. I've driven cars and ridden bikes down that stretch of road literally hundreds of times in the last 25 years. For 8 years I worked on Hillview Ave and drove that way every day on the way to work. The road we are talking about is southbound Foothill Expressway and they are very specific about saying 100 feet south of Page Mill Road, which is just after the intersection. At that point, the road is essentially straight, although it will soon start curving slightly to the left and them more substantially to the left as you approach the bridge over the small creek and the turn in for the 3800 Hillview parking lot.

I've never witnessed people drifting between lanes on that stretch, but maybe I just got lucky all those years.

My guess is distracted or age impaired driving. My parents recently went through that stage before passing away in their late 80s. It was like pulling teeth to get my Dad to give up his car. Fortunately he never had any accident more serious than some minor scratches and a serious shot of adrenalin. But we chewed our fingernails every day at the prospect of what could happen.

Don't get me wrong: I wish the best for the recovery of the folks involved. My only beef is with your analysis that the road itself is somehow at fault or dangerous. It's a nice wide road with a very commodious bike lane and very clear lane markings. Should be no problem for anyone paying full attention behind the wheel.

Like this comment
Posted by carol
a resident of Los Altos
on Dec 28, 2010 at 2:34 pm

To 'Insight':

'Experienced Cyclist' is correct. That specific location is wide, straight and has clear visibility - about as safe as can be on any expwy. I have cycled it to & from Menlo to Los Altos and driven it hundreds of times over the last 30 years. Don't blame the road.

Like this comment
Posted by commuter
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 28, 2010 at 3:24 pm

I agree that Foothill is wide and straight in that area. If anything, it is too wide, since that encourages some people to drive much faster than the speed limit and then jam on their brakes at the next stop light. (Not necessarily these people.)

Like this comment
Posted by Experienced Cyclist
a resident of Community Center
on Dec 28, 2010 at 5:23 pm

One more thought on this: 100 feet isn't very far at all. Maybe 7 or 8 car lengths from Page Mill Road. There is one hazard at this point, which is merging traffic from eastbound Page Mill trying to turn right onto southbound Foothill. One possible scenario, given the proximity to the intersection and the fact that the victims were in the right hand lane of Foothill: if they thought someone was trying to merge in on them unsafely, they might have reactively dodged left to avoid a possible collision. In that scenario, even a very competent driver would not have time to look over the other shoulder away from the view of the perceived pending accident to check for the presence of another vehicle in the left lane before doing the evasive maneuver.

Just a speculation, of course, given the paucity of data in the article.

Like this comment
Posted by Chuck
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 30, 2010 at 2:54 pm

Judging by the photographs the car wound up about 1000 feet from the intersection, just past the first gentle curve on Foothill Expressway. The curve is visible in the photograph that shows the fire truck.

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

Don't be the last to know

Get the latest headlines sent straight to your inbox every day.

Vegan cafe to land in Mountain View this week
By Elena Kadvany | 7 comments | 3,894 views

How Can We Fund Below Market Rate Housing for Low and Moderate Income Residents in the Region?
By Steve Levy | 34 comments | 1,827 views

College Match
By John Raftrey and Lori McCormick | 0 comments | 786 views

A Power Play
By Sherry Listgarten | 3 comments | 682 views

Piles of artwork
By Cheryl Bac | 0 comments | 250 views


Vote now!

It's time once again to cast your vote for the best places to eat, drink, shop and spend time in Palo Alto. Voting is open now through May 27. Watch for the results of our 2019 Best Of contest on Friday, July 19.