Two accidents in East Palo Alto cast a dark grey cloud over the morning Wednesday. The two accidents were not related, although they occurred within roughly a block-and-a-half apart. The first accident involved an SUV driving the wrong way during a police pursuit. The SUV slammed head-on into a motorcycle just before dawn Wednesday morning.
A 50-year-old man was killed in the motorcycle accident. East Palo Alto Police Chief Ronald Davis says the man was just trying to get to work when the motorcycle accident claimed his life. The police chase reportedly lasted less than a minute before the fatal head-on collision occurred. Later that same morning, and in the same neighborhood, a young girl was walking with her mother on the way to school when tragedy struck again.
An elementary school teacher was heading to work shortly before 8:00 a.m. Her BMW struck a 6-year-old girl less than two blocks from the earlier fatal motorcycle accident. The young school child was killed in the pedestrian accident. Chief Davis said after the two fatal accidents, “It’s a tragic day.” He continued, “You have such a loss of innocence.”
An assistant superintendant at the school where the teacher works and the child was a student says school starts at 8:30. A number of students are believed to have witnessed the pedestrian accident. The school is planning to make grief counselors available for students.
Police intend to investigate whether the teacher was distracted at the time of the pedestrian accident. Law enforcement plans to investigate the police pursuit that preceded the initial fatal collision. The 46-year-old SUV driver in that accident reportedly has a long criminal history in East Palo Alto. Police engaged in pursuit with the belief that the SUV occupants may have been involved in a burglary, according to news reports.
The teacher on the other hand reportedly has only a few minor traffic citations in her past.
Source: San Jose Mercury News, “East Palo Alto schoolgirl and motorcyclist killed in separate accidents,” Julia Prodis Sulek and Bonnie Eslinger, Sept. 29, 2011