A teacher who struck and killed a 6-year-old East Palo Alto girl in a crosswalk on Sept. 28 told police that sun glare prevented her from seeing Sioreli Torres Zamora, East Palo Alto Police Chief Ron Davis has confirmed.
Alisha Whiteparker, the teacher who was driving to her job at a nearby elementary school, told police at the scene that glare across her windshield had blinded her when she struck the little girl. Sioreli was crossing Bay Road at Gloria Way while on her way to school.
Davis said it was the second car accident involving a child in which a driver blamed the sun.
A 29-year-old man struck and injured an 8-year-old boy at the same intersection six months ago. That accident occurred at 7:33 a.m. -- 20 minutes earlier than the accident that killed Sioreli, Davis said.
Police did not charge the man in that case, Davis said. The boy was in a body cast for two months.
But Davis stressed that because Sioreli was killed, police are looking closely at the incident to decide if any charges should be filed.
"We have to look at how fast the driver was going and if there were other distractions," he said. Just because the speed limit is 25 mph doesn't mean that a driver should be going that speed, he added. Drivers must consider road conditions -- including glare -- and they have to change their speed to accommodate those conditions, Davis said.
"If you are going 25 mph, clearly you have to slow down," he said.
Police have not completed their investigation into Sioreli's death and plan a follow-up interview with Whiteparker, Davis said.
The case will be turned over to the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office for consideration of any possible charges against her in the next week or two.