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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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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)

28Feb/120

Tracy Man Charged with Vehicular Manslaughter

Eric Rode Olsen

Eric Rode Olsen

Early Friday morning, 30 year old Eric Rode Olsen was arrested on a vehicular manslaughter charge due to the death of a passenger after losing control of his 3280i BMW and crashing.

Olsen was reportedly involved in a late Thursday night race on the runway of the Tracy Municipal Airport, during which he lost control of his vehicle. After driving through a fence and over a levee, Olsen and his passengers came to a sharp stop at the bottom of the Delta Mendota Canal.

While Olsen and two of his three passengers escaped the car unharmed, the third, a visitor from Europe, was supposedly trapped inside the sunken car.

A while after, Tracy police received a call reporting that a car had crashed into the canal west of the Tracy Airport, and that a passenger was potentially trapped inside.

The California Highway Patrol, Tracy Fire Department, and San Joaquin County dive team could not locate the missing man, whose name has yet to be released.

This individual is to be presumed dead.

6Nov/110

Paratransit Driver Charged with Murder of Hell’s Angel in San Leandro

Eddie HallHAYWARD -- Eddie Hall of Oakland, accused of using a paratransit van to run over Hells Angels biker, George Lopez Jr., was charged with murder and three other felonies on Tuesday.  Hall, 31, also is facing one count each of attempted murder and hit-and-run with death or injury, police said.

In addition, Hall was charged with attempted escape from a city facility because police said he tried to run out of the San Leandro police station Saturday as detectives interviewed him.

"The door in our interview room was open briefly and he darted out and into our offices, but he was quickly captured." police said.

Hall was driving an East Bay Paratransit van when he is accused of intentionally hitting George Lopez Jr., 51, of Stockton, as he and five to seven other bikers were heading eastbound on Interstate 580 about 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct 22.

Lopez was thrown from the motorcycle and run over by the van. He was then dragged for more than a mile before Hall pulled onto the shoulder of the freeway. Lopez was treated at the scene before he was taken by helicopter to Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley, where he was pronounced dead.
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Hall attempted to flee, but was quickly captured. Based on evidence and witnesses statements, Hall intentionally changed lanes and rammed into the motorcyclist, according to police.

Hall is being held without bail at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin.

(Source: Mercury News)

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/