Stanford student pleads not guilty after fatal crash

A Stanford Graduate School of Business student today pleaded not guilty to multiple felony charges related to a fatal wrong-way crash on U.S. Highway 101 in South San Francisco last month, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office.

Zachary Katz, 24, has been charged with one count of vehicular manslaughter and two counts of felony drunk driving causing great bodily injury in connection with the Oct. 5 crash that killed 62-year-old Pedro Juan Soldevilla of Puerto Rico, Chief Deputy District Attorney Karen Guidotti said.

According to the California Highway Patrol, Katz had a blood alcohol content of around .15 when he drove the wrong way onto southbound Highway 101 near Sierra Point Parkway at 3:50 a.m.

He crashed into an SUV taxi, which veered across several lanes and was struck by a Mazda, the CHP said.

Soldevilla, who had been a passenger in the cab, was ejected and died at the scene.

Another passenger and the taxi driver were seriously injured, the CHP said.

The driver of the Mazda was not injured.

Katz suffered several broken bones and was hospitalized for four days before he was arrested and booked at San Mateo County Jail.

He remains out of custody on $250,000 bail, Guidotti said.

Prosecutors have requested an increase in bail based on the number of charges, District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.

A bail hearing has been set in San Mateo County Superior Court on Friday at 9 a.m.

— Bay City News Service


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Posted by lock him up
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 12, 2013 at 6:31 pm

I'm sorry, but driving drunk at double the legal limit, the wrong way on the freeway, seriously injuring two people, and killing another is 5 strikes and you're out. [Portion removed.]

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Posted by actually
a resident of another community
on Nov 13, 2013 at 10:23 am

Everyone does stupid things sometimes...I am sure there is so much more to him than this.

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Posted by lock him up
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 13, 2013 at 10:37 am

Accidentally killing yourself is stupid. Killing and maiming other people is a whole different story. And this perp committed multiple other crimes before he started killing. I don't care what the rest of his story is; it cannot absolve what he did on that day. [Portion removed.]

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Posted by Pants on Fire
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 13, 2013 at 11:26 am

[Portion removed.]

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Posted by what
a resident of another community
on Nov 13, 2013 at 1:45 pm

do you mean by "multiple other crimes"?? none that I'm aware of.

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Posted by lock him up
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 13, 2013 at 4:58 pm

Other crimes include drunk driving, driving on the wrong side of the road, reckless driving on a freeway, failure to yield to legal traffic, etc. The carnage would have been avoided if he obeyed the law in the hours leading up to the killing.

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Posted by Prof. W
a resident of Stanford
on Nov 14, 2013 at 1:41 pm

Prof. W is a registered user.

Perhaps it's time to crack down on the heavy drinking culture condoned by Stanford Business.

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Posted by Mikey Palo Alto
a resident of Gunn High School
on Nov 14, 2013 at 4:58 pm

Mikey Palo Alto is a registered user.

The driver is also a victim and I'm sure he feels terrible. He'll have to carry the burden of what he did the rest of his life, which is punishment in and of itself. His driving privileges should be suspended for life, but putting him jail is a waste of our taxpayer dollars. Let his penance be a life of community service talking to students about the horrors of these senseless tragedies.

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Posted by rick
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 14, 2013 at 6:11 pm

rick is a registered user.

Looks like he doesn't feel terrible enough to plead guilty. Must've been someone else's fault.

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Posted by Mikey Palo Alto
a resident of Gunn High School
on Nov 14, 2013 at 6:32 pm

Mikey Palo Alto is a registered user.

Guilty and fault are strong words. This is irresponsible behavior that ended tragically. We can have the driver "pay" for his "crimes" and we'll all feel better about ourselves because justice was done... until the next time it happens because we've failed as a society to address the issues that encourage this type of behavior.

1 person likes this
Posted by marahfab
a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 14, 2013 at 8:53 pm

marahfab is a registered user.

why is this person pleading not guilty? and not only wasting the court's time (our money) & the jurors' time but making the victims' families go thru another hearing (some coming from Puerto Rico, at their own expense?) and a trial, where they get to listen to how their relative was killed? he was clearly guilty of blood alcohol way above the limit (is he contesting that?) and the obvious results of his stupid, reckless, thoughtless behavior, putting himself, and only himself, ahead of the community's welfare. No, "everyone" does NOT do things this thoughtless and irresponsible, changing the lives of others forever, with no way to make up the loss. The perpetrator's "victimhood" (poor boy, feels terrible)is NOT punishment enough. Actions have consequences, especially getting looped and then driving what is essentially a lethal weapon & messing up a series of other lives. It boggles my mind that this person's pleading not guilty. Colossal nerve on top of irresponsibility. Must think he's something special. Well, in a way, yes.

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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Nov 15, 2013 at 12:10 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

Mikey - how is the driver a victim? I find that a head-scratcher.

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Posted by Mikey Palo Alto
a resident of Gunn High School
on Nov 15, 2013 at 3:02 pm

Mikey Palo Alto is a registered user.

@hmmm... You don't drink to oblivion, drive suicidally, and act that irresponsibly if you're not running from the pain of some powerful demons in your past or present... from the pressures of school, his family, whatever... this guy is all of us at the wrong time and in the wrong place... we're all capable of doing really stupid things.. the difference is that sometimes we get lucky and other times, it ends in tragedy. Accountability and personal responsibility won't right the damage he's done or bring back the dead. Hope that clears things up.

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