The Australian race car driver charged with vehicular manslaughter for a fatal crash on state Highway 84 in San Mateo County made bail and was released from county jail on Tuesday, Sept. 12.
Luke Nardini, 31, faces two misdemeanor manslaughter charges for the head-on collision on Sept. 1 on Highway 84 in La Honda, east of Peek-A-Boo Lane. He was being held in jail with bail set at $20,000.
At a hearing in Redwood City Misdemeanor Court on Monday, Sept. 11, Commissioner Sarah P. Burdick granted two conditions on Nardini's bail requested by the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office: He will have to surrender his passport and he must remain in San Mateo County, but will be allowed to travel to the office of his attorney, John Noonan, in the East Bay city of Dublin.
Nardini was released from jail on Sept. 12, according to Christine Kuchac-Noonan, a legal analyst in Noonan's office. She said she could not comment further on Nardini's case at this time.
The California Highway Patrol said a Ford Taurus was traveling west on a blind curve on the two-lane highway when it collided with an eastbound BMW driven by Nardini, killing the two backseat passengers in the Taurus, 80-year-old La Honda residents Jack Davis and Linda Davis.
According to prosecutors, Nardini, who had been visiting California, was traveling at about 55-60 mph in the wrong lane because he is accustomed to driving on the left side of the road in Australia. Spotting the oncoming BMW about 10 feet away, the Taurus driver tried to evade the crash but was struck head-on.
The driver and front-seat passenger in the Taurus were taken to a hospital, and Nardini was treated for a back injury.
Nardini is a Formula 500 race car driver from the West Australia town of Narrogin, according to The Guardian and multiple Australian media reports. His mother Cheryle Nardini said in a Facebook post that the family and Luke are "devastated" that two people died.
She and son Jamie visited Luke in jail last Wednesday, Sept. 6, and he "expressed again how sorry he is about what has happened and the pain he has caused," her post said. A fundraiser to support the family's travel and lodging costs had raised over 26,000 Australian dollars of its AU$30,000 goal as of Wednesday, Sept. 13.
According to the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office, Nardini was driving east on the highway when there was a closure of the eastbound lane so he moved into the westbound lane and apparently forgot to move back to the right side of the road.
There is more than one area of Highway 84 that has been impacted by lane closures recently, as well as some local debate over that detail in the official account of the accident. Lorrain Rucker, a local resident who drives through the area every day, told this news organization that the closed lane is on the westbound side of the highway, not the eastbound side, as was reported by the District Attorney's office.
A pre-trial hearing is set for Oct. 11 and the trial is set to start on Nov. 17, prosecutors said.
Bay City News Service contributed to this report.