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25Jul/120

Dublin Hit and Run Suspect, Spencer Freeman Smith, Posts 60K Bail

Spencer Freeman SmithSpencer Freeman Smith (33) of San Ramon, was arrested after being connected to the hit and run incident involving Bo Hu (57).

Police used video surveillance, cell phone records, and information gathered from Bay Area Mercedes Dealerships to place Smith at the scene of the hit and run, and locate his home.

Pieces of the vehicle left at the crime scene were taken to several dealerships, where they were confirmed to be from the model of the vehicle in question.

A black, brand new Mercedes Benz was found in Smith's residence on Baker Way (three miles north from the crash), the front end and windshield extensively damaged.

Two days after the accident, police contacted Smith, who allegedly "spontaneously stated he was involved in an automobile accident."

His attorney, Bill Gagen, is not prepared to comment on the hit and run charge until he has a chance to review the evidence, and says that it is likely Smith was charged with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter as opposed to felony because there were no obvious signs of negligence. (editor's comment: leaving the scene without calling an ambulance is not negligence?)

Gagen also suggests that Bo Hu was riding in an unsafe place at an unsafe time. Dougherty Road has two lanes running in each direction with no bicycle lane, and 11:30p.m. is rather late to be riding a bike on such a road.

Smith is currently free on a $60,000 bail.

(Source: SF Gate, Around Dublin)

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14Jun/120

Bay To Breakers Assault Victim Dies

Stephen Martin Killed Bay to BreakersStephen Martin, a 30 year old man from Santa Clara, died while hospitalized in the San Francisco General Hospital on June 8th, following an incident on the May 20th Bay to Breakers run. According to police, Martin took part in the event without registering, though his friends informed police that he was taking part in the activities after the race.

Around 5:00p.m. in Sharon Meadows in the Golden Gate Park, Martin's group clashed with around a dozen other people dressed in white and red 49er's outfits. Police suggest that the group fight may have been over a cell phone, or possibly something gang-related, though it was made clear that Martin had no gang connections.

At the time, Martin was wearing green camo shorts, no shirt, and a green wig. During the attack, one of the men wearing the 49er's outfits approached and struck Martin in the side of the head, causing him to fall over and hit his head on the pavement. The trauma sent him into a coma, which turned out to be fatal.

Police are requesting information, names, or photographs directly relating to the event. Contact the San Francisco homicide inspectors at 415-553-1145, or 415-575-4444 for the anonymous tip line.

(Source: NBC)

19May/120

San Francisco Attorney Arrested for Fatal Hit and Run Accident

Spencer Freeman SmithSan Francisco Attorney Arrested - The Mercedes hit and run killer has been captured! It turns out that the driver that killed Bo Hu, 57 in Dublin is an attorney from San Francisco, who lives in San Ramon. The accident occurred Tuesday night on Dougherty Road at Fall Creek Road around 11:30 p.m.

Pieces of the Mercedes left on the scene of the accident lead police to identify the suspect vehicle as a black 2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS550. They were then able to track the purchase of the vehicle to  Spencer Freeman Smith.

On Thursday, May 17, 2012, about 1:00 PM, Dublin Police Investigators and the Traffic Unit identified a subject who recently purchased a a black 2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS550. The owner of the vehicle, Spencer Freeman Smith of San Ramon, was later contacted at his residence.

While searching his home, police found the Mercedes with extensive damage consistent with hitting a pedestrian. The vehicle was also missing parts found at the scene. Smith, 32, was arrested and booked at Santa Rita Jail on charges of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence and felony hit-and-run.

The victim was believed to have been visiting Dublin from China. He was identified by the Alameda County Coroner's Bureau Thursday.

Several people reported seeing a man walking a bike with a flat tire along that stretch of roadway just before the collision.

(Source: Dublin Patch)

27Oct/110

Parolee Kills Innocent Driver After High-Speed Chase

Mauro GutierrezParolee, Mauro Gutierrez, of Concord was arrested after causing an accident that left the innocent driver of a BMW dead. Gutierrez was spotted by Concord Police illegally using a cellphone while driving a white pickup. The police officer attempted to pull him over, but instead of complying, Gutierrez led police on a brief, 1 minute chase, that ended with the pickup broadsiding a BMW at Solono Way and Grant Street, killing the driver.

Both Gutierrez and his passenger bailed out of the vehicle after the crash, but were apprehended and arrested a short time later. Police found a handgun in the trunk of the pickup truck. The pickup truck was allegedly stolen. These are the likely reasons Gutierrez evaded police.
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(Source: Contra Costa Times)

25Aug/110

When Elderly Drivers Become Unsafe

Elderly drivers are generally more cautious and safer than young drivers. There is a point, however when every person becomes too old to drive. Reflexes, reaction time, eyesight and numerous other factors degrade with age.

20 Warning Signs To Look For In Elderly Drivers

• Decrease in confidence while driving
• Difficulty turning to see when backing up
• Easily distracted while driving
• Other drivers often honk horns
• Hitting curbs
• Scrapes or dents on the car, mailbox or garage
• Increased agitation or irritation when driving
• Failure to notice traffic signs or important activity on the side of the road
• Trouble navigating turns
• Driving at inappropriate speeds
• Uses a "copilot"
• Bad judgment making left turns
• Delayed response to unexpected situations
• Moving into wrong lane or difficulty maintaining lane position
• Confusion at exits
• Ticketed moving violations or warnings
• Getting lost in familiar places
• Car accident
• Failure to stop at stop sign or red light
• Stopping in traffic for no apparent reason

Or the most tragic warning sign - killing another person in an accident, as occurred yesterday in Fremont.
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A San Ramon man, 47-year-old John Soopikian, was on the curb next to the Interstate 680 on-ramp exchanging information with a woman he had just had an accident with on the highway.  An 83 year old Fremont man  driving a Buick Le Sabre drove his car onto the curb, struck Soopikian, and continued down the embankment, dragging the San Ramon man under the car until it struck a chain-link fence and tree, coming to rest. Police found Soopikian pinned under the car. He was transported to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.

I will go out on a limb here and say the the 83 year old Fremont man should not have been driving a car. I don't know the specifics of this case, but I have had plenty of experience with aging family members who stubbornly cling to their driving privilege past the  point where it is safe. One great-aunt was killed when here elderly husband crashed into the side of the building with here in the passenger seat. No other cars were involved.

There are two factors that come in to play here:

1) The choice of whether to drive or not is often left up to the elderly driver. Because their mobility and independence often hangs in the balance, they are reluctant to give up their privilege voluntarily, even if they know they are having trouble navigating.

2) Partly because the automobile manufacturers used their money and power to dismantle the public transportation system in this country,  having a car is almost a necessity in many places, especially if you maintain an active, independent lifestyle. More importantly, if  you are to be gainfully employed, you need a car.

More strict standards for driving competence is the real answer to avoid such tragedies as happened in Fremont yesterday. The economic impact such a change would have, in worker mobility and increased bureaucracy, however makes it very  unlikely such a change will occur.

(Source: San Ramon Express, AOL Autos)
http://autos.aol.com/article/when-are-you-too-old-to-drive-a-car/