News


Three-car collision leaves six girls, three adults with minor injuries

Children were riding in a van that rolled over, landed on its side near Oshman Family JCC

Six students from the private Girls' Middle School and three adults were injured in a three-car collision at a major intersection in Palo Alto during the Tuesday morning commute, police and a school spokeswoman said.

Around 8 a.m., firefighters were called for a rescue at East Charleston and San Antonio roads, near the Oshman Family Jewish Community Center, city dispatchers said over the public-safety radio.

Emergency responders arrived to find a van carrying nine girls on its side. Initially, all nine girls reportedly minor injuries, according to the Police Department, which later clarified that six were injured. Three adults also suffered minor injuries.

Kimberly Yarnall, communications and development director for The Girls' Middle School (GMS), confirmed that the girls attend the private school on West Bayshore Road. All nine of them were back in school on Wednesday and the van driver set to return on Thursday.

"We are relieved and thankful that none sustained serious injury from the accident yesterday," Yarnall said Wednesday. "We are grateful for the support from our parents and staff at GMS, the neighboring schools who have offered resources and concern, and all of the firefighters and people in the area during the accident who turned out to provide immediate assistance."

A BMW 328 sports car driven by a man was traveling west on San Antonio Road collided with a van driven by a man heading north on East Charleston Road. The van spun around and turned on its side. A third car, a Kia Sportage SUV driven by a woman, then collided with the BMW, which was in the intersection.

"It was originally reported that the nine passengers in the van would be transported to the hospital," police spokeswoman De la Vega said Tuesday. The injured were treated at the scene by emergency personnel from the Palo Alto Fire Department.

The cause of the collision, which blocked northbound East Charleston Road at San Antonio Road for about an hour, is under investigation.

City officials have been exploring in recent months various ways to improve safety at the intersection of San Antonio and Charleston. On Wednesday night, the Planning and Transportation Commission will consider several different concepts, including removal of one of the two southbound right-turn lanes on San Antonio. Read our story from the meeting here.

According to a report from Planning Director Jonathan Lait, the city has been hearing from residents, employees and visitors to the community center about "a history of collisions, pedestrian safety and congestion during the peak hours" at this intersection. During a five year period between Jan. 2012 and Dec. 25, the intersection had about 25 reported collisions, according to Lait's report. Most were determined to be caused by unsafe speed or improper turning, the report states.

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Comments

15 people like this
Posted by vmshadle
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 12, 2019 at 9:28 am

This is a difficult intersection for cars going southbound on San Antonio. Because the JCC building is built very close to the street, seeing around the corner to the right is impossible.

The inner right-turn lane becomes a mandatory right lane into the JCC complex or onto Fabian, but you cannot see that until you have completed the turn. I and my car were once hit while in the outer/left-hand right turn lane by a motorist who tried to exit the inner lane before looking to see if anyone was there. I wonder if it makes sense to post signs describing the configuration well before people round that corner.


30 people like this
Posted by PA Resident
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 12, 2019 at 9:46 am

@vmshadle—San Antonio is East/West, not North/South. Are you talking about driving East on San Antonio?

Drivers were crazy this morning in Palo Alto, likely cut-through commuters. I've never seen such bad driving or so many cars on the road. Because Menlo Park doesn't offer enough lanes for entering, drivers choose to enter Palo Alto.

Palo Alto City Council needs to cut back on allowing anymore businesses in town. This has become a dangerous city for drivers, bikers, pedestrians because of the commuters zooming on our streets and it's spilling over to the neighborhoods.


38 people like this
Posted by Shawn
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Nov 12, 2019 at 9:55 am

Every morning is a snake pit in Palo Alto. It has gotten worse every month. i Cant name one main street that is not packed with cars every morning.Universiry ave, Alma, Page Mill, Embarcadero, Oregon exp. All of those's streets are packed.


18 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 12, 2019 at 9:55 am

I hope this article can be updated to say how the collision occurred. We can't make the street safer without knowing exactly what caused collisions and injuries in the past. Was someone speeding? Running a red light? Changing lanes without looking? This should be easy to figure out.


54 people like this
Posted by PA Resident
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 12, 2019 at 10:12 am

The death of Driver's Ed has exacerbated driving skills. We have people arriving from all over the world and there is no mandatory Driver's Ed—they just take the driver's test until they pass, have no idea of the road laws. Can't even count on the drivers in the fast lane to be driving over 60 mph, they think it's just another lane when it's supposed to be for passing cars. There are times when I am sandwiched and cannot drive past cars on highways because they are blocking all lanes. And there are no more classes, youth are learning to drive via online education, totally ineffective.


13 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 12, 2019 at 10:32 am

@PA Resident, at that point San Antonio is within 5 degrees of exact North/South. I agree with you on "road boulders" as Gary Richards (Roadshow) calls them.

My question about that intersection has always been whether right turn on red from southbound San Antonio onto westbound Charleston is legal from both of the right-turn lanes or only in the rightmost lane. Always fun to navigate that area of town around rush hour. Can't wait for the new hotels to open.


1 person likes this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 12, 2019 at 10:59 am

Posted by Shawn, a resident of Fairmeadow

>> Every morning is a snake pit in Palo Alto.

True, but, that particular intersection, and, section of Charleston, has always been a mess. Since whenever Ford Aerospace etc were all located in that industrial park. 50+ years IIRC. Anyway, they missed a chance to fix it when the JCC replaced Sun, but, it is going to be tough to fix it now.


8 people like this
Posted by MP Resident
a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 12, 2019 at 11:05 am

[Post removed.]


15 people like this
Posted by On The Road Again
a resident of Southgate
on Nov 12, 2019 at 11:13 am

[Post removed.]


13 people like this
Posted by Window Dressing for Overdevelopment
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 12, 2019 at 11:26 am

"This is a difficult intersection for cars going southbound on San Antonio. Because the JCC building is built very close to the street, seeing around the corner to the right is impossible. "

City Council has been waging war on visibility, because they think it makes it safer for bikes when cars have a dangerously lowered visibility at intersections. Also, they have been REQUIRING new developments to go right up to the street, with no provisions for walkable sidewalks and distance between walkers and the ever-more-congested streets, because of some theories about planning that are so nonsensical I'm not even going to try to explain why.

They have taken away any requirement to analyze circulation. Again, they think somehow that destroying traffic circulation in town will make everyone bike. I keep waiting for someone with a mobility disability who cannot bike, or someone elderly with a mobility disability who is tired of their limited time being sucked away by this lunacy, to sue (over that and the way all new developments seem designed to shut anyone with a mobility limitation out of Silicon Valley).


13 people like this
Posted by HAHAHA!!
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 12, 2019 at 11:30 am

OMG, someone just said that there is a war on visibility!!
...a war on visibility. BEAUTIFUL! :) :)


19 people like this
Posted by Rush Rush Rush, CRASH
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 12, 2019 at 11:31 am

Drivers, are you listening?
No other reason for this except for people rushing and pushing the eavelope.


5 people like this
Posted by LOL
a resident of another community
on Nov 12, 2019 at 11:56 am

[Post removed.]


22 people like this
Posted by Family Friendly
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 12, 2019 at 12:09 pm

People get frustrated in grid-locked traffic, and start darting in and out of lanes, racing through yellow lights, taking right turns through cross-walks between pedestrians.

I expect that accidents will continue to increase, thanks to our meretricious city council and planning commission.


19 people like this
Posted by pa resident 2
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Nov 12, 2019 at 12:28 pm

The van was a shuttle transporting children to school. I believe it was traveling northbound on San Antonio and making a left onto Charleston, when it was hit by a car. Accident was caused by a car running a red light. Entire intersection was blocked and many ambulances on scene - every road was backed up, including 101.


9 people like this
Posted by duveneck
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 12, 2019 at 12:30 pm

[Post removed.]


5 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 12, 2019 at 12:33 pm

This collision involved at least 3 (and maybe 4 since the van carrying the children is not a car) and we have no idea which was at fault. We have no idea of the weather (sun angles) blinding drivers.

What we know is that there was a traffic mess. PAPD were using social media to warn drivers before leaving home to avoid the area.

Everyone commenting here seems to have their own theory but until we hear about the definitive cause everything else is pure speculation.

I also hope that the cause will be determined and then publicized. If there is anything to be learned from this such as road design, signage, etc. then that would be useful to learn from this. Without causing blame, it is important to find out cause and then use that information to make the intersection safer for all users.


4 people like this
Posted by PA Parent
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Nov 12, 2019 at 12:34 pm

Does anyone know what school the children were going to?


23 people like this
Posted by Witness
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 12, 2019 at 1:04 pm

A car ran the red light and t-boned the van that was carrying the children. The van rolled at least once. Thank goodness no one was seriously injured. The van had a green and was traveling on Charleston. The car that hit them, ran the red, and was driving on San Antonio.


20 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 12, 2019 at 1:09 pm

Posted by Witness

>> The car that hit them, ran the red, and was driving on San Antonio.

"I don't want to move to a city where the only cultural advantage is being able to make a right turn on a red light."

So, is everybody ready for a crackdown on people who run red lights -without stopping- ? I sure am.


3 people like this
Posted by member
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 12, 2019 at 1:12 pm

I saw this happen in front of my eyes. The 3 car collision was almost like a T , the van got pushed back and then toppled left. I cannot still tell who was at fault but the signals had just changed!


44 people like this
Posted by No accountability
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 12, 2019 at 1:15 pm

There is a serious problem in Palo of drivers running red lights, and not merely the just turned red kind... but blatantly running right through a very red light. I see at least 5 a day when I'm out walking. There needs to be serious accountability with these red light violations (not just a scrappy to the rich fine). Palo Alto PD- it's time to start cracking down on this!


6 people like this
Posted by opinions on every subject
a resident of Ventura
on Nov 12, 2019 at 1:29 pm

I wish to add my two cents on this topic because I am unable to read a single article on Palo Alto Online without feeling compelled to register a complaint or offer critical commentary. Thank you for allowing me an opportunity to contribute to this very important dialogue about an unusual automobile accident.


20 people like this
Posted by Please slow down.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 12, 2019 at 1:49 pm

Would everyone please just slow down? The minute or two you might save by rushing into an intersection carelessly is not worth your life or someone else's well-being.

Driving is a privilege, not a right. Drive responsibly.


12 people like this
Posted by How can I blame cyclists?
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 12, 2019 at 2:21 pm

Can someone help me craft an argument that will allow me to blame cyclists for this and not drivers?
Thanks!


5 people like this
Posted by PAer
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 12, 2019 at 2:47 pm

There are two lanes turning right onto E. Charleston from San Antonio at the corner of JCC. I've seen so many drivers crossing the line when they made right turn.

Accident happens because someone doesn't know how to drive.


4 people like this
Posted by WalkableRidableDrivable
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Nov 12, 2019 at 2:56 pm

This is a sad morning after Veterans day ! It's another fight after a Holiday weekend - road rage ! I hope all these children heal and get the long term emotional support much needed after this morning's crash. Too. This proves that San Antonio IS NOT a good area to build multi family housing on and why Cubberely would be a much more appropriate site for housing. Cubberely proves more walkable, ridable to Palo Alto schools and other destinations for our residents. The infrastructure is already there for such a livable environment. Also later start times for public schools could help with inner city morning commutes because 3 workers to every one working resident drives from far outside the city limits. These workers do not know this community and therefore are rushing to get to their high stress jobs.


9 people like this
Posted by It's not a priority for PA
a resident of Stanford
on Nov 12, 2019 at 3:00 pm

Glad the passengers are safe. Vehicle, bike, and pedestrian red light/stop sign infractions happen all day, every day, and everywhere in Palo Alto. One of the worst intersections is at Sand Hill and Pasteur, where people are constantly speeding to and from the hospital complex (and the shopping center beyond) and running red lights. Not only do cars turning right from Sand Hill onto Pasteur not stop on their red light, they barely slow down! Starting in early afternoon, there are 8-10 cars (4-5 per lane) running red lights from the two left turn lanes from Pasteur to Sand Hill (SW toward 280)--at every stoplight cycle. They block the intersection because traffic in that direction is already backed up, creating additional stress and frustration for everyone else in the intersection. That location is particularly dangerous due to the high volume of bikes and pedestrians coming from the nearby apartments and Menlo Park (via the bridge). There are near misses there on a daily basis, and sometimes collisions. Years ago I brought the matter to the attention of the PAPD traffic supervisor and was told they didn't have enough officers to monitor traffic (but they would try), and moreover, the traffic police shift ended at 4:30! The situation has only worsened since then.


27 people like this
Posted by Private Parent
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Nov 12, 2019 at 3:05 pm

The light had just changed and the van started through the intersection to turn left on to Charleston from north-bound San Antonia.

The car that hit the van tried the unfortunate, but classic, "The light is just barely turning red, so I can get through if I don't slow down" trick, and hit the van totally broadside. If the driver had slown down at all before trying to barrel through the intersection, it wasn't very much at all. They did jam on their brakes way too late though.

Car driver was an idiot.


3 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 12, 2019 at 4:01 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

I had a fender bender at this intersection. There are two right hand turn lanes going from San Antonio to Charleston. The inner lane assumes the auto is going to turn right at Fabian. The outside lane assumes that you are going forward on Charleston. What happens is that people in the inner turn lane discover that they are trapped into turning right on Fabian and then get into the outer lane - in a hurry. That turns out bad. Another issue is that the Charleston road traveling west shrinks from two to one at the intersection.

The opposite effect is if you are in the Charleston left turn lane onto San Antonio people are zooming in both lanes from San Antonio onto Charleston. Being in the left turn lane makes a person feel exposed to possible scrunch from the turners who look possessed. I am re-thinking how to do that whole intersection because there is more unskillful people on the road.


8 people like this
Posted by Bikermom
a resident of Mayfield
on Nov 12, 2019 at 4:49 pm

All of the words drivers in the world moved to the Bay Area in the past 5 years.


7 people like this
Posted by Bikermom
a resident of Mayfield
on Nov 12, 2019 at 4:50 pm

*worst not words. My autocorrect is also the worst. ;)


8 people like this
Posted by Truth
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Nov 12, 2019 at 5:10 pm

Thanks, witnesses! Please write to Lieutenant Con Maloney, in charge of traffic: con.maloney@cityofpaloalto.org tobe sure the red light runner is charged.


4 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 12, 2019 at 5:19 pm

Just to dot the "i's" and cross the "t's", someone should time the yellow and red/green switchovers and make sure that everything is normal. These things are supposed to depend on approach speed and width of the intersection. My recollection is that the minimum yellow light time is supposed to be 3 seconds, and, go up from there depending on speed limit (e.g. 4 seconds at 35 mph). Then, assuming a vehicle entered while yellow, the vehicle has to be able to clear the intersection before the other direction turns green. That could easily take at least a second. I'm not sure if these times were ever standardized at the state or national level. Anyone know?

It would be a shame if the driver who ran the red light could prove that the yellow cycle was too short. Are there cameras at that intersection which would capture the whole sequence?


4 people like this
Posted by reader
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 12, 2019 at 5:42 pm

Our neighbor city keep creating high density building and larger business. It making the traffic worse and worse.


6 people like this
Posted by PA Resident
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 12, 2019 at 5:54 pm

The city will not install red light cameras, something to do with privacy issues. Although there are cameras around town for crime. I'm thinking red light cameras are more headache issues, especially in this argumentative environment. Menlo Park removed their longstanding red light cameras on El Camino recently.


5 people like this
Posted by JR
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 12, 2019 at 7:07 pm

Thanks for the eyewitness accounts. The driver should be charged with nine counts of attempted murder. The van turning left was struck so hard it rolled all the way out of the intersection onto Charleston. I originally assumed the van was making a right turn onto Charleston when it was hit.. it seems it wasn't the case.

The solution is more traffic enforcement, not red-light cameras (which are illegal in Santa Clara County). Time to take back our community from scofflaw speeders and light runners.


5 people like this
Posted by Driver
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 12, 2019 at 7:55 pm

I was just starting up at the Charleston southbound light, second in line, and was driving through the intersection when the collision occurred right behind me as I had just passed through. I saw the van slam on their brakes while entering the intersection, causing break squealing, and fishtailing. I heard the crash behind me, with debris flying, and was worried a car was going to be pushed into me. When I looked back, the van was on its side and the front end of a white car was damaged, facing the wrong way by the Palo Alto Gas and Smog station.
I don't know where the white car had come from - could have been a car turning left from Charleston onto northbound San Antonio, or right onto Charleston from San Antonio southbound. It could not have been a car from northbound San Antonio as I had just passed through. I don't know how long the light had been green for the van, but the van was breaking hard, the tires were screeching, and they were fishtailing through the intersection.


3 people like this
Posted by Driver
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 12, 2019 at 8:45 pm

Just read this - A BMW 328 sports car driven by a man was traveling west on San Antonio Road collided with a van driven by a man heading north on East Charleston Road.
So that makes sense -if he was trying to make a right hand turn onto Charleston from that second lane on San Antonio, it can be very confusing.


4 people like this
Posted by Be thoughtful
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 12, 2019 at 8:48 pm

Praying that the little kids are ok.
They have a beautiful life ahead of them. Any collision can change that.
Drive safely, keep eyes open.
XOXO,
Life is good. Be good to neighbors. Thank you.


5 people like this
Posted by Henry
a resident of another community
on Nov 12, 2019 at 11:21 pm

One commenter here suggested that the yellow phase of the signal might be too short. That's definitely something that can affect the frequency of accidents happening less than a second after the signal changes. Another signal setting to look at is the length of the "all red" portion of the signal cycle. All red is just what it sounds like - a one, two or three sec. period where the signals go red simultaneously in all directions, before the next green. A common setting is one second, but maybe this intersection needs two seconds, or three. Or, someone directing traffic?


7 people like this
Posted by Mike Ackerman
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 13, 2019 at 10:20 am

When are people going to learn what a yellow light actually means? What it doesn’t mean is that you should speed up to make it through the intersection to beat the red. The CA Vehicle Code says that when the light turns yellow, if you can safely stop, you must do so. This doesn’t mean that every time a light turns yellow you have to slam on the brakes. That would not constitute a safe stop. So: 1) Pay attention when approaching an intersection
2) Do Not speed up to make it through
3) Stop if you can do so safely

It’s not that difficult of a concept


2 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 13, 2019 at 11:16 am

A yellow light means for want of a second, three or four minutes will be lost.


Like this comment
Posted by parent
a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 13, 2019 at 2:59 pm

Criminal charges are not tremendously when negligent driving leads to injuries to the victims. I have even read about drivers convicted of murder in some negligent driving cases. Fortunately, none of the victims was killed this time.


10 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 13, 2019 at 3:00 pm

Criminal charges are not tremendously unusual when negligent driving leads to injuries to the victims. I have even read about drivers convicted of murder in some negligent driving cases. Fortunately, none of the victims was killed this time.


2 people like this
Posted by Illuminato
a resident of another community
on Nov 13, 2019 at 8:08 pm

I clicked on the story and that used the 6th out of 10 of my free articles for this month. Then I clicked on "Read the full story here", to actually read the story, and that burned another "article", bringing me up to 7 out of ten. That's a rip-off, I want my money back. Or at least another article for this month back.

It seems like a lot more people are playing red-light roulette these days. Betting their lives against a minute or so of idle time.


Like this comment
Posted by :)
a resident of Community Center
on Nov 13, 2019 at 8:43 pm

Illuminato, clear your browsing data/cookies on your computer. Or if on a mobile phone, delete the app, then get it again.


Like this comment
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 16, 2019 at 9:03 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Description of the accident- possible problem I have seen is that people at the gas station and are now leaving try and enter the road - Charleston and get confused by the amount of traffic. I see people trying to do that at the most inopportune times. They try and cross over to the left side to turn at San Antonio to get to the freeway off San Antonio. I get my gas at that station and always leave by the side - go around the block and re-enter Charleston with a light at the Fabien intersection. That way I can then get into the left hand turn lane to get on to the freeway without trying to go across traffic.
As a side note a cab driver was going west on San Antonio then suddenly decided to turn on to Charleston almost hitting me. Someone let this man loose on the streets driving a cab.


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