News

Police hunt for crash victims near Foothills Park

Police use helicopter, dogs in search for occupants of vehicle in ravine off Page Mill Road

Palo Alto police searched for nearly two hours using dogs and a helicopter for the occupants of a vehicle that crashed into a 50-foot ravine near Foothills Park on Thursday night (Dec. 30).

The search closed down Page Mill Road near the site as police looked for possible victims, at one point bringing in a helicopter from San Jose Police Department.

The helicopter search was called off when the searchlight could not penetrate the thick vegetation and police brought in sniffer dogs, according to police dispatchers.

But no victims were found as of about 10 p.m.

Police Lt. Sandra Brown said no blood was found at the scene. Police later determined the car was stolen out of Menlo Park, Brown said.

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Police opened one lane of the road to traffic after the car was removed from the ravine at about 9:45 p.m.

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Sue Dremann
 
Sue Dremann is a veteran journalist who joined the Palo Alto Weekly in 2001. She is a breaking news and general assignment reporter who also covers the regional environmental, health and crime beats. Read more >>

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Police hunt for crash victims near Foothills Park

Police use helicopter, dogs in search for occupants of vehicle in ravine off Page Mill Road

by / Palo Alto Online

Uploaded: Fri, Dec 31, 2010, 9:44 am
Updated: Sat, Jan 1, 2011, 11:55 am

Palo Alto police searched for nearly two hours using dogs and a helicopter for the occupants of a vehicle that crashed into a 50-foot ravine near Foothills Park on Thursday night (Dec. 30).

The search closed down Page Mill Road near the site as police looked for possible victims, at one point bringing in a helicopter from San Jose Police Department.

The helicopter search was called off when the searchlight could not penetrate the thick vegetation and police brought in sniffer dogs, according to police dispatchers.

But no victims were found as of about 10 p.m.

Police Lt. Sandra Brown said no blood was found at the scene. Police later determined the car was stolen out of Menlo Park, Brown said.

Police opened one lane of the road to traffic after the car was removed from the ravine at about 9:45 p.m.

Comments

Bill
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 31, 2010 at 11:01 am
Bill, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 31, 2010 at 11:01 am

> But no victims were found as of about 10 p.m.
> Police Lt. Sandra Brown said no blood was found at the
> scene and police were not sure if the crash was caused because
> the car was dumped or if it was stolen and someone accidentally
> drove it off the road

Hmm .. a check of the vehicle's license (or VIN) should have revealed the vehicle's registered owner's name and address. Worst case, a patrol car would have to visit the owner's address to contact him/her, and at least find out where the owner thought the vehicle was supposed to be.

(No doubt the police will get around to doing that today, but you'd think that they would at least have the city where the vehicle is registered within a few minutes of arriving on the scene.)


not the first time
College Terrace
on Dec 31, 2010 at 11:15 am
not the first time, College Terrace
on Dec 31, 2010 at 11:15 am

Not the first time stolen cars were taken on a joy ride, then dumped off Page Mill Road.


Former Resident
Los Altos Hills
on Dec 31, 2010 at 11:25 am
Former Resident, Los Altos Hills
on Dec 31, 2010 at 11:25 am

That section of Page Mill Road is scary. When I lived in LAH my kids would be driven up Page Mill Road on a school bus from Nixon. I always wondered "would they make it?" Thankfully they alway did but I'm not at all surprised the occasional car goes over the side into the ravine.


Picky Picky
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 31, 2010 at 4:47 pm
Picky Picky, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 31, 2010 at 4:47 pm

Bill, you really should lighten up. The police might not share all the information they have with the press right away. Duh.


qq
Barron Park
on Dec 31, 2010 at 5:33 pm
qq, Barron Park
on Dec 31, 2010 at 5:33 pm

The live blow-by-blow...

Web Link

They did run the VIN, about the same time the husband of the RO called Menlo PD to report it stolen.

Keys left in it, as usual.

I hope the insurance company doesn't catch wind of that fact.

qq


where
College Terrace
on Dec 31, 2010 at 6:12 pm
where, College Terrace
on Dec 31, 2010 at 6:12 pm

Where was the car stolen from?


qq
Barron Park
on Dec 31, 2010 at 6:52 pm
qq, Barron Park
on Dec 31, 2010 at 6:52 pm

A laundry mat on Willow Road in Menlo.


a scam?
College Terrace
on Dec 31, 2010 at 11:33 pm
a scam?, College Terrace
on Dec 31, 2010 at 11:33 pm

Mercury-News says a Palo Alto police sgt "wouldn't be surprised if it turned out the vehicle had been dumped by someone looking to avoid payments." Web Link


Bill
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 1, 2011 at 8:15 am
Bill, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 1, 2011 at 8:15 am

> The police might not share all the information they have
> with the press right away

Maybe .. but given that there was no blood, that was a big tip off to the possibility that this car was stolen. That begs the question of how much effort they should expend trying to find non-existent "victims". It's clear that they spent a lot of time (and money) looking for people who were not to be found.

While it's understandable that the police might not want to share everything that they know about a crime/accident situation as early as the media might want to know these details, it's not clear that the Weekly ever thinks to ask.

Even though this was a car "drop", and no one was hurt, it's not clear that someone involving in dropping off the car might not have been hurt in the process. So, the police did have to spend some time looking around the vehicle. But it seems that they could have called off the searching as soon as they found out that the car was stolen.

So .. it seems they wasted time and money, in the long run. Nothing to "lighten up" about.


PJ
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 1, 2011 at 10:04 am
PJ, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 1, 2011 at 10:04 am

Bill, since Sgt Benitez was in charge I'm sure everything was done by the book, he is one of the best Supervisors in the PAPD. Incidentally, he was at the scene the day before rescuing the woman from under the bus on University. If you think our cops are paid too much, he's definitely earned his salary this week.


sgt
College Terrace
on Jan 1, 2011 at 10:16 am
sgt, College Terrace
on Jan 1, 2011 at 10:16 am

Sgt Benitez really gets around. He is also investigating Friday morning's acid bomb attack on a Palo Alto home: Web Link


Picky Picky
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 1, 2011 at 10:35 am
Picky Picky, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 1, 2011 at 10:35 am

Bill, you need a bit of perspective. More than a bit, actually. You know the Weekly reporter didn't ask the questions? You were there? You think it's a waste to search for injured people the second it looks like the car was stolen? You're sure this was actually a stolen car, not a scam to collect insurance?

Yes, Bill, lighten up. We're lucky to have the Weekly and our good police officers.

P.S. "beg the question" does not mean "begs for the question to be asked." It's a fallacy. Duh.


Observer
South of Midtown
on Jan 1, 2011 at 10:37 am
Observer, South of Midtown
on Jan 1, 2011 at 10:37 am

I'm glad the police did a search. If they made assumptions about the incident and walked away without knowing what actually happened, they would be doing a poor job. Thank you to the police for making sure rather than being quick to judge before they had all the facts.


SickOfCrime
Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 1, 2011 at 8:07 pm
SickOfCrime, Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 1, 2011 at 8:07 pm

If the people who stole the car went over the cliff I wouldn't have wasted search money on them. Tired of crime and the jerks who commit it. If it was dumped to avoid payments, ditto.


Picky Picky
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 3, 2011 at 8:54 am
Picky Picky, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 3, 2011 at 8:54 am

By all means, SickOfCrime, those car thieves deserve to lie in a canyon slowly bleeding to death, while we righteous and good people save a few bucks. While we're at it, why don't we elimiate the costly court system and just let the police department do summary executions?


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