Palo Alto bicyclist dies following car crash in Mountain View


The 63-year-old Palo Alto man who suffered critical injuries late last week after he was struck by a vehicle in Mountain View died Wednesday, according to police.

The accident occurred on July 10 at about 7:30 p.m., when the man was hit by the driver of a 2002 Honda Civic going north on San Antonio Road near El Camino Real.

Witnesses at the scene told police the man may have suffered a head injury and was unconscious but breathing. He was transported to Stanford hospital, where he was pronounced dead on Wednesday.

The man has been identified as 63-year-old Eric Palmquist, according to the Santa Clara County Medical Examiner-Coroner's office.

Police say Palmquist was traveling west across San Antonio Road near the El Camino Real intersection when he was struck by the car, causing him to hit the windshield and land on the pavement a short distance from the vehicle. He was not wearing a helmet, police said.

The driver of the vehicle, a 70-year-old Los Altos Hills man, stayed at the scene and cooperated with police throughout the investigation. The man was not injured and did not appear to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, police spokeswoman Shino Tanaka said.

Police have posted a map to give people a better idea of where the accident occurred, but additional details regarding the incident have not been released, as the case is still under investigation.

Anyone who witnessed the accident is encouraged to contact Officer Dan Garcia at 650-903-6344 and refer to case number 15-3916.

What is democracy worth to you?
Support local journalism.


24 people like this
Posted by Anneke
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 16, 2015 at 6:10 pm

I am very sad to hear that Eric Palmquist died from his injuries. 63 Years old is much too young, and obviously, he was trying to take care of his health by biking. My sincere condolences to his family at this bereavement time.

I would like to take this opportunity to ask all bicyclists to wear helmets and obey the traffic rules. I am asking the car drivers to also obey the traffic rules. I see too many bicyclists without helmets and racing through stop signs. I also see car drivers run stop lights on a very regular basis. It is a recipe for disaster.

However, there are other dangers as well. My husband of nearly 83 years is also an avid biker. He wears a helmet, an orange with reflective stripes vest, and he is extremely careful. That is his commitment to me, as, yes, I do worry that an accident may happen, and it did. On September 9, 2014, on Bryant Street in front of Duxiana Beds, an SUV driver (apparently one of Palo Alto's firemen) opened his (large) SUV door unexpectedly. As my husband was right there, the door hit him hard and made him fall to the ground. We spent that afternoon at Stanford's Emergency Room and had a number of medical appointments afterwards. The police found the SUV driver guilty.

Bikers have to be careful at all times, but cars need to be extra careful when they are around bikers.

My husband still bikes, and follows all the rules, and yes, I am always worried when he goes out, but I recognize he loves biking and I need to let him do it. To everyone, please be careful and courteous in traffic.

Like this comment
Posted by ndn
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 16, 2015 at 6:30 pm

With all due respect Police didn't find anybody guilty in your husband's accident. Only a court of law can make such determination. The Police's findings were, if I read your narrative correctly, that the SUV's driver was at fault. That is a very different outcome from being guilty, which implys immoral or criminal behaviour. I was, according to you an accident.

But I share your concern for bikers without helmets, insurance and running stop signs (a more common occurence with bikers than cars) and distracted or deliberate car drivers trying to beat red lights.

Like this comment
Posted by ndn
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 16, 2015 at 6:32 pm

Sorry, my previous post should read :.....It was, according to you an accident.....

3 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 16, 2015 at 6:55 pm

My condolences to Mr. Palmquist, his friends and family. 63 is very young.
I go to Whole Foods and Safeway both several times a week, and that looks
like a very odd place for an accident for two reasons ...

1. Why would a bicyclist even be there?

2. Any way that traffic would be approaching an average driver should be
paying close to attention to what they are doing and what is in front of
them. Either you are coming straight from Los Altos and can see right
in front of you, or you are making a left turn from El Camino in which case
you would be paying very close attention because you are just coming out
of a turn and merging into traffic on San Antonio. Finally if you are making
a right turn from El Camino, that is a very wide right turn and again you
would be normally paying a lot of attention to what you are doing.

I hope the PAO keeps track of this story and what happened. I hope this
is not another case of distracted driving I see every day in Palo Alto as the
new normal.

11 people like this
Posted by Anneke
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 16, 2015 at 7:14 pm

NDN: I certainly did not mean to imply immoral criminal behavior. It was an accident. Here is what it said in the report:

Cause: D-1 (Driver) should not have opened his door into an oncoming bicyclist, a violation of 22517 VC.

I wanted to bring this accident out as an example of what can happen when bicyclists and cars share the road.

Being careful is so important for all of us.

11 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 16, 2015 at 8:01 pm

Anneke - nun seems to have been nit-picking and trollling - bad point. Since you did not name any names it doesn't matter and no one really needs an out of the blue lecture on the finer points of not-guilty, guilty and being at fault. It's pretty clear you were just trying to remind people to wear helmets. Good point.

14 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 16, 2015 at 8:15 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

I noticed that whenever a cyclist is killed or injured in an accidents, there trolls who immediately try to blame the victim and excuse the vehicle driver. Not being a psychologist or psychiatrist I don't really have a clinical explanation to this phenomenon, but I can only imagine how the families of the victims must feel. In a publication that is very quick to censor posts, I wonder why those post are not deleted immediately. .

Like this comment
Posted by ndn
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 16, 2015 at 8:16 pm

Let me answer "CrescentParkAnon" question
1. Why would a bicyclist even be there?

It doesn't matter why, at all. He, the cyclist was there.

The driver of the car is at fault if the light was red for him and Mr. Palmquist light was green and he was a pedestrian crossing on the crosswalk . Mr. Palmquist was hit sideways (not hit on the back), so he was crossing San Antonio.

I see a scenario of a true accident with perhaps more than one cause. Let us not start to blame the driver and design fantasy scenarios in which things go exactly as fantasy goes so that someone is absolutely right. Maybe, just maybe the cyclist was at fault, maybe not, the investigation will tell us.

As a driver or as human we have expectations and driving and biking are full of them. When I am on the road I do not expect that someone J-crosses, that would be crazy. The speed limits are there so that traffic can proceed. If drivers on Alma go at 10 miles/hour expecting a pedestrian or slower vehicle to cross in front of them so that they can stop, no city , no region could move. It's clear that the presence of the biker was unexpected - nobody expects someone on foot or bike to cross San antonio to reach the median if they don't have the green light or/and if they are not on the crosswalk.

Was Mr. Palmiquist on the crosswalk expecting to beat a coming red light for him, because he was moving faster than a pedestrian on his bike? Was he not on the crosswalk, but used a window of time in which no traffic was running because the light was just changing and he thought he would have time to reach the median? Maybe he was used to do that, who knows and was always lucky? But it is a fact that a car starting to cross El Camino on a green light doesn't have enough horizon to see clearly and exactly someone crossing at a distance (specially if the road has a positive gradient as San Antonio does) and there is no expectation that that is about to happen.The car driver also has to look out for all the traffic, not just who is on the road far away enough. Of course, the car driver continues (with the green light) specially if the biker was moving very fast, would anyone of us with the exception, obviously, of someone, who apparently travels always at no more than 10 miles/hour and has uncommon vision and traffic expectations.

Mr. Palmquist's accident and consequences is a very sad fact. A cautionay tale also- please, bikers or pedestrians, don't cross in front of traffic. Wait for the green light and cross on a crosswalk. Also, please try not be biased and atribute culpability to the usual suspects, whether they are bikers or car drivers. It makes for poor justice and lack of elementary learning and because of that it will happen again.,

Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 16, 2015 at 8:27 pm

This is a sad outcome. @CPA, looking at the photo in the first article, the back end of the car is at the second lane-stripe or 20 feet from the crosswalk. What is stopping distance at 35 mph? Charts say 40 feet even for just 20 mph. The cyclist could well have been in the crosswalk. I'll assume the lack of skid-marks is due to anti-lock brakes. The windshield damage is startling.

Like this comment
Posted by ndn
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 16, 2015 at 8:44 pm

the post are not deleted whether they are posts faulting the driver or the cyclist, or even posts like mine, who just want to fair, not bombastic and tries hard to reason. We don't know exactly who is at fault or who is guilty and maybe it was just an accident produced by convergent circumstances, sad as it is. Maybe Mr. Palmquist thought he could beat the red or the driver thought he could beat the red light Maybe the sun was making the red not very visible, who knows, or other factors. I say let the police determine, if they can, who, if anyone was at fault, or if both were.

But there is no doubt that a helmet might have helped the cyclist. Please use them. A helmet helped to save my child. So, I'm very fond of them.

Like this comment
Posted by ndn
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 16, 2015 at 10:34 pm

The distance between half of the width of the sidewalk and where police map shows the car is 40ft according to a google map measurement

Like this comment
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 16, 2015 at 10:52 pm

Without video or eye witnesses, it's difficult to determine what happened in this accident. However, a friend of mine on a bike was hit by a slow moving Honda Civic and was thrown on the front hood and windshield and that Civic didn't incur this much damage. Luckily he was able to stay on the hood until the car stopped.

2 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 17, 2015 at 1:00 am

@ndn -- careful, the annotated "police map" is not showing the vehicle in question. I'm looking at the photo from the first article, showing unlit highway flares, and the accident car's rear wheel about even with a yellow reflector. I still get about 20 feet from crosswalk to rear bumper, and then add the 14-foot length of a Civic. The Google measurement tool is a nice feature. I was surprised to see the crosswalk is 15 or 16 feet wide. I'm sure the police report will have accurate measurements and a probable location of the collision. Apologies to others here who may be appalled by such quibbles. The location does matter, because such factors affect future mitigation efforts (if any). I haven't seen any reference to history of accidents or statistics at this intersection. Likely irrelevant, as the traffic patterns have probably changed significantly with recent development.

Like this comment
Posted by maguro_01
a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 17, 2015 at 3:28 am

An unfortunate and sad story.

Of course helmets are a great idea and should be mandatory if that's possible as wearing seat belts is in cars.

However, IMO, San Antonio and El Camino are both much too risky for bicycles. Central or Alma are also. Anywhere crossing freeway entrance / exit ramps is as well, for example Shoreline and 101 / 85 or Middlefield. Central is riskiest crossing entry / exit ramps too.

2 people like this
Posted by Rose
a resident of Mayfield
on Jul 17, 2015 at 11:00 am

This accident and death will be a lifelong burden and sorrow for the driver as well. As others have said, both drivers and cyclists need to slow down, follow the law, and be vigilant about safety.

7 people like this
Posted by Helene
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 17, 2015 at 11:27 am

My sympathies to the bicyclist and his family. We lost our son on his bicycle 1 1/2 years ago to a driver who had crossed over the center line and hit my son head on in the bicycle lane. My son was not at fault, while the driver was completely responsible.We were told the driver would never be charged. In fact, one week after the accident, the New York Times had an article that read "Is it ok to Kill Bicyclist.......Yes". Most times even if the driver is responsible for the accident, they are not routinely charged. Our son's case was unique, the driver was charged and sentenced. Does it bring my forty year old son back, no. Do I feel justice prevailed? I am satisfied that the driver was punished, but I will never forgive him for taking our son's life, feeling he was above the law, and not having respect for what he did.
The driver in the Mt. View accident will have to live the rest of his life knowing he took a life. That has to be living in hell. We need respect for bicyclists and drivers, and respect for safety laws. Otherwise, I fear this story will be repeated over and over again.

16 people like this
Posted by Sarah
a resident of another community
on Jul 17, 2015 at 1:13 pm

My cousin, Eric Palmquist, is gone. His organs were donated so that many others will live. What a beautiful gift! I pray that the driver who hit Eric can focus on the good that came from the organ donations and not be tormented by this tragedy. Please pray for that man. I can't imagine how difficult it is for him to forgive himself. The Palmquist family forgives him and appreciates that he stayed at the scene to do what he could to help.

Like this comment
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 17, 2015 at 1:17 pm

I really do not get the comments saying that someone is blaming the victim.
I am not sure if that is continuing trollishness or a misread of my previous
post ... anything but.

I did not know him well, but Eric was an acquaintance of mine and there is
anything but blame there. The facts of this accident seem confusing to me.

From the police report it seems that the driver was coming from the Los Altos
direction down San Antonio, so I am interested in how he can miss someone
that was in that particular location because at least the police picture has
Eric a carlength or several down San Antonia in the number 1 lane. That is
an odd place for a bike.

The police did not report the accident as being in the crosswalk that I read,
so naturally I am curious.

3 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 17, 2015 at 1:19 pm

Sarah, I am sorry for your loss, and to your family as well and Eric's friends.

Like this comment
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 17, 2015 at 1:28 pm

musical, I appreciate that you actually took a closer look at the police photos. If the car was coming straight line from Los Altos, why did they fail to see Eric Palmquist either in the number 1 lane, in the crosswalk entering, or about to enter the crosswalk is my question - because of the many scenarios that one seems to have the most visibility. I don't think we can determine that from the information given.

1 person likes this
Posted by Anneke
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 17, 2015 at 4:11 pm

Sarah, how enormously gracious, kind, and thoughtful the Palmquist family has been by donating Eric's organs. Yes, that is the good that will come out of this tragedy, despite the enormously difficult time this family will be going through. I really appreciate that you let all of us know.

Helene, my deep sympathies for you and your family as well. What a tragedy.

I just read in the Daily Post that a 12-year bicyclist also died from incurring major injuries in a collision with a car in Sunnyvale this past Monday. Another young and precious life lost. Unfortunately, he also did not wear a helmet.

On the Website of it states that your bike helmet is the most important piece of protection you own. According to the International Bicycle Fund, about 75% of bicycle deaths come from head injuries.

Finally, with regard to bicycle helmets, I wanted to let you know that bike helmets are only good for one crash. Again, according to BikeFat, the reason for this is that the EPS (Expanded Polystyrene) foam that modern bicycle helmets are made from absorbs impacts by allowing the walls of the foam cells within the foam to crush, slowing the head down and spreading the impact over a greater area. Once the EPS foam has crushed, the helmet is no longer able to absorb more impacts.

Let us honor Eric Palmquist and Helene's son by wearing our bike helmets, and bicycling and driving with care for the benefit of each other.

2 people like this
Posted by Sam Beal
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jul 17, 2015 at 4:32 pm

everyone has an opinion but the bike was either from hit the side (someone ran the light or failed to stop on a right turn on red) OR the bike was hit from behind. Crosswalk has nothing to do with either. Riding a bike on El Camino in the traffic lane is LEGAL. There is no requirement to veer into the crosswalk at an intersection. And If you get hit in either of these scenarios, the helmet still won't save your life or your limbs.

I ride through that intersection 3 to 4 times per week. I stay to the right of cars proceeding straight - unless they are too busy starting at their lap-app to drive in a straight line. And I've been riding bikes for 55 years. Cars are in the wrong 95% of the time and get away with 85% of the time - as long as the driver is sober and doesn't flee, a death is almost always deemed an unfortunate accident. Even though man slaughter is man slaughter is man slaughter.

Alma / Central is much more dangerous than El Camino.,

Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 17, 2015 at 5:15 pm

Somewhere in the background are the lawyers and insurance companies.

Like this comment
Posted by Mike
a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 17, 2015 at 7:28 pm

Comparative net worth of the two parties likely will result in no charges. Surprise. That is the usual reason why "killing bicyclists is OK."

1 person likes this
Posted by David
a resident of another community
on Jul 17, 2015 at 10:30 pm

Cars do run through red lights . I have almost been hit by cars while on my bike crossing in the crosswalk lines. The thing is that you can say bikes and cars both need to take responsibility but the fact is that a car making a mistake will kill or maim you. It is best to never completely trust a car in your vicinity.

10 people like this
Posted by ndn
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 18, 2015 at 7:59 am

Some comments are beyond the pale. The need to put blame on someone with nary a care for fairness and justice is staggering, let alone the fact that the investigation into the accident is still ongoing. What a lynching mentality!

Surely, if someone is the agent of someone's death I can imagine that's something very difficult to forget the accident but if there is no fault, why feel guilty? Or forgiven?

If the driver is at fault or is in some way responsible that might not make it a crime at all, no matter how indignant we might be. That is why there is no prosecution in many cases. The cases in there is a prosecution are the ones in which a crime has been commited, but to conclude that every bike/car interaction that results in a biker's death should become a crime strikes me as very biased, unfair and of a mobish mentality.

Guilt, fault and responsibility are not the same thing. Confusing those makes for a very poor sense of justice.

Let the investigation show what happened.

Obiviously, the biker didn't care for a helmet. Whether that would helped him in this case I don't know . But was
the lack of helmet not a contributory factor for his injuries?
A helmet should be an essential piece of equipment for any biker.

Cars do run red lights occasionally, but in my experience bikers run red lights as a norm. As a pedestrian who lives near downtown I would have been a victim of bikes who do not respect red lights if I wasn't so attentive to their maneuvres and wouldn't take into account that as a pedestrian i'm weaker than a bike and rider and they are not as visible as a larger volume object such as a car. I also watch out for cars, but cars are not nearly a problem of red light running, at least where I live. So, let us stop making bikers or drivers into saints or the devil. Both commit violations.

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

All your news. All in one place. Every day.

After 39 years of cakes and pastries, Palo Alto institution Prolific Oven to close
By Elena Kadvany | 55 comments | 17,279 views

Local Transit to the Rescue?
By Sherry Listgarten | 15 comments | 1,919 views

The Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) Process Explained
By Steve Levy | 8 comments | 1,401 views

"You Gotta Have Balls [to do counseling] . . .
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,176 views

Do something about assault weapons, now!
By Diana Diamond | 38 comments | 1,140 views


Register now!

‚ÄčOn Friday, October 11, join us at the Palo Alto Baylands for a 5K walk, 5K run, 10K run or half marathon! All proceeds benefit local nonprofits serving children and families.

More Info