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  1. #1
    Senior Member sweetnsourbkr's Avatar
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    The 'tino tragedy

    I know a lot of us are saddened by the loss of two cyclists in Cupertino, CA last weekend. It seems like this event has attracted massive media attention, and I'm willing to bet that it's because the guilty party was a police officer.

    The thing that amazes me is how quickly people have learned of the tragedy. People at work, who always poke fun at my spandex, keep asking me questions and telling me about this and that. What we've seemed to forgotten is that people get killed on bicycles everyday by motorists just like them--people who've never been on a bicycle and SHARED THE ROAD. I hear about tragedies almost every week by reading bikeforums.net. I never hear about those at work.

    It saddens me that the media has carefully chosen this incident to explode out of proportion. Of all the motorists out there, I think cops are our allies (second only to street sweepers). It's unfortunate that uninformed, ignorant people have decided to virtually crucify the cop who was involved even before there has been any kind of hearing or trial.

    I am not related to those who were lost, so I can't ask you to forgive the man. Just look at it from a different perspective.

  2. #2
    RacingBear UmneyDurak's Avatar
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    Well the tragedy was local, cop was involved, it's probably a slow news week. No big surprise it was picked up by media, and your co-workers heard about it.
    I see hills.... Bring them on!!!
    Stay calm and bring a towel.

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    From what I've read, the media-- at least the San Jose Mercury news--- chose to use this tragedy to "educate" the public about "crazy" cyclists riding two abreast, instead of talking about something relevant to the crash, like drowsy driving, inattentive driving, or distracted driving.

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    RacingBear UmneyDurak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blue Order View Post
    From what I've read, the media-- at least the San Jose Mercury news--- chose to use this tragedy to "educate" the public about "crazy" cyclists riding two abreast, instead of talking about something relevant to the crash, like drowsy driving, inattentive driving, or distracted driving.
    Well.. I wouldn't go to that extent when describing it, but yeah their reporting was very skewed and had information that had nothing to do with the accident.
    I see hills.... Bring them on!!!
    Stay calm and bring a towel.

  5. #5
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    Discussion of risk-taking cyclists is bolded, discussion of drowsy driving, inattentive driving, and distracted driving is in red:

    Quote Originally Posted by San Jose Mercury News
    Two bicyclists struck and killed by sheriff's vehicle in Cupertino

    By Leslie Griffy and Joshua Molina
    Mercury News

    Article Launched: 03/09/2008 11:23:56 PM PDT

    Two avid bicyclists were killed when a Santa Clara County sheriff's patrol car crossed the double-yellow line on Stevens Canyon Road in Cupertino and hit a group of riders shortly before 10:30 a.m. Sunday.

    The crash on a beautiful Sunday morning left the Bay Area cycling community and the sheriff's department shaken.

    "It's just horrible," said Mike Riepe of San Jose, after hauling his mountain bike up a trail near the crash site.

    The opportunities for hill climbing and downhill coasting along Stevens Canyon make the road tempting for cyclists. So on Sunday morning four cyclists training for an event decided to give the hills a shot. The group was hit by the deputy's white cruiser while the deputy was on a routine patrol in the area, Sgt. Don Morrissey said.

    Coming around a bend near a straightaway, the deputy accidentally crossed the center line and struck the group, Morrissey said. He called for help and immediately began CPR on one of the fallen cyclists, Morrissey said.

    The sheriff's office did not release the names of the victims. But friends and bicycling Web sites identified the dead cyclists as Matt Peterson, 30, of San Francisco, and Kristy Gough, 31, of Oakland. Peterson died at the scene of the crash and Gough died several hours later after she was airlifted to Stanford University Hospital. Before and after she died, dozens of cyclists gathered at the hospital.

    A 20-year-old man, identified by friends as Christopher Knapp of Germany, was seriously injured and was listed in stable condition Sunday night at Stanford University Hospital. The fourth rider was not hurt, CHP officer Todd Thibodeau said.

    Peterson was on a cycling team sponsored by Roaring Mouse Cycles, a San Francisco bicycle shop. The shop's Web site posted word of his death on Sunday night.

    The Web site of USA Cycling lists numerous races in which Peterson did well, including a first-place finish in a March 1 road race in Merced. He had a fourth-place finish in the Tri-Flow Menlo Park Grand Prix on Saturday.

    Friends on Sunday described Gough as a professional triathlete who recently took up cycling but immediately started winning Northern California races. The most recent was the Merco Credit Union Foothills Road Race in Merced County on March 2.

    "It's a huge loss for our team," said Anthony Borba of Campbell, the captain of the Third Pillar, Gough's team. "Besides being a phenomenal talent she was a phenomenal human being."

    Interviewed at Stanford hospital late Sunday night, Borba said Gough was "an Olympic hopeful" being scouted for the Summer Games in Beijing.

    "It's just so sad that these two athletes who were just coming into their own were struck down," Borba said. "We're all in shock."

    Sunday's accident rattled the whole sheriff's department, Morrissey said. The deputy involved in the crash will be placed on administrative leave until the investigation is complete. He's been on the force for about a year and a half.

    "He's taking it very hard," Morrissey said. "The whole department is saddened."

    Fatal crashes are rare for the sheriff's department, even though deputies often drive as many as 200 miles in a single shift, Morrissey said.

    The last fatal crash involving a sheriff's patrol car happened in 1994, when a deputy trying to keep a suspect from running struck and killed the man near the intersection of West San Carlos Street and Bascom Avenue. The deputy was cleared of wrongdoing.

    On a good weekend, thousands of cyclists cruise the winding road leading to Stevens Creek Reservoir, said cyclist Steve Paterson, 49, of Cupertino, as he was turned away from a road block near Ricardo Road set up because of the crash.

    "There are so many rides up here," he said. "Club rides, sponsored rides, groups of friends."

    It's unclear whether the cyclists involved in the crash were riding as part of a larger group, Morrissey said.

    Cyclists along the well-traveled stretch of road talked Sunday about the dangers of their sport - everything from speeding cars to drivers who blare their horns in an attempt to intimidate them. One of the most dangerous things cyclists can do, they said, is ride two-abreast.

    That practice is not illegal but can be extremely dangerous on narrow, winding roads with a large amount of traffic.

    It was unclear if the cyclists involved in this crash were doing so, Thibodeau said. But cyclists said they've seen dangerous behavior from those on both two wheels and four.

    "I've seen bicyclists who ride crazy,"
    Paterson said. "And I've seen cars that go too fast."

    In 1996, cyclist Jeffrey Steinwedel, 46, died on Stevens Canyon Road just up the road from Sunday's crash when a quarry driver struck him as he took a winter ride. The driver, Jon Nisby, was sentenced to a year in jail.

    The CHP is asking anyone who witnessed the crash to call (408) 467-5354, extension 337.

  6. #6
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blue Order View Post
    Discussion of risk-taking cyclists is bolded, discussion of drowsy driving, inattentive driving, and distracted driving is in red:
    Oh... well then sure, it was obviously the cyclists' fault.

    Too bad this prevailing view is endemic in our autocentric society.

  7. #7
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    Matt was my friend and teammate. I can speak a little bit to the attitude of the rest of my team concerning the deputy. We are all sad. Many of us have experienced anger. None of us have lashed out at the deputy or the sheriff's department. In fact our team has worked very closely with the sheriff's department so that this weekend's memorial ride can be conducted in a safe and respectable manner.

    From what I have seen and experienced since Sunday afternoon, especially at the memorial last night our team's attitude toward the whole tragedy is shared by Matt's family, and by Kristy's team, Third pillar, as well as other friends of Matt and Kristy. We are all greatly saddened, many of us are very very angry that it happened, but it isn't anger directed at anyone. I have barely even thought of the deputy. Some of us were even sympathetic to him, having now to go through life knowing he killed two people and injured a third and affected friends and families forever. If justice needs to be served, let it be served, but mostly I just miss my friend.

  8. #8
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    My condolences to you and your teammates for your loss.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by genec View Post
    Oh... well then sure, it was obviously the cyclists' fault.

    Too bad this prevailing view is endemic in our autocentric society.
    Nope, sorry, you're mistaken - not the cyclists' fault, nor the deputy's (james council) fault. It was the Santa Clara Sheriff's Dept fault. They're the one's who forced the deputy to work such a "brutal", "exhausting" schedule. He simply had no choice in the matter. Council was only following orders.

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/articl.../BAEVVIOS9.DTL

    --------------------------------------------------

    The attorney representing a Santa Clara County sheriff's deputy who struck and killed two competitive bicyclists in Cupertino said Wednesday that the officer had worked a lengthy shift the day before and that fatigue may have been a factor in the crash.

    She would not confirm witness reports that the deputy, 27-year-old James Council, told people at the crash scene Sunday morning that he had fallen asleep at the wheel. Council "doesn't know what happened" when he veered across the center line of winding, two-lane Stevens Canyon Road, killing the two cyclists and injuring a third, attorney Mary Sansen said.

    "The possibility exists," she said, "that we're never going to know what happened."

    Two men who came upon the accident scene a short time after the crash said Council had said he thought he fell asleep. Since then, Council has not spoken, publicly or to investigators.

    Sansen said in a lengthy interview in her Pleasant Hill office that prosecutors who must decide what charges, if any, to file in the case may need to look at Council's work schedule before the crash.

    Council was 4 1/2 hours into a 12 1/2-hour shift when the accident occurred at 10:25 a.m. Sunday. He worked a 6 a.m.-to-6:30 p.m. shift on Saturday, the sheriff's office said, meaning that with the switch to daylight-saving time Sunday, Council had 10 1/2 hours off between shifts.

    "A 12 1/2-hour shift is brutal," said Sansen, who specializes in representing law enforcement officers. "You're not sitting behind a desk. Even if you don't work in a high-crime area, you're always on alert for 12 1/2 hours. It is exhausting."

    She added, "Nobody goes home at the end of a 12 1/2-hour shift and goes right to bed."
    Confident he was sober

    Sansen declined to say exactly how Council, who lives less than 10 miles from Cupertino in Santa Clara, spent his time between his Saturday and Sunday shifts.

    She said she had "not the least concern" that alcohol or drugs played a role in the accident. She said she has urged Sheriff Laurie Smith to turn over blood test results to the California Highway Patrol, which took over the crash investigation.

    Council was charged in 2001 in Los Angeles with drunken driving and engaging in an exhibition of speed, records show. The more serious charges were dropped in a plea bargain, and Council pleaded guilty only to street racing, earning two years of probation. The Department of Motor Vehicles said Council had no other blemishes on his driving record in the past 10 years.

    "I hate to see someone tagged for life for something they did when they were 20," Sansen said.
    8-hour shifts rare

    Deputies in Cupertino, which contracts for services with the sheriff's department, work either three 12 1/2 hour shifts a week or four 10-hour shifts, depending on the team to which they are assigned, said Sgt. Don Morrissey, an agency spokesman.

    Shifts of 10, 11 and 12 hours are common in police work. Eight-hour shifts are rare.

    Asked if the department was reviewing the length of shifts in light of Sunday's accident, Morrissey said, "The sheriff hasn't ruled out looking into any of these things. But we don't want to jump to any conclusions.

    "We want the investigation to run its natural course and reveal a cause," Morrissey said. "We're focused on the loss of life right now."

    Officials with the county's Deputy Sheriffs' Association, which represents deputies in negotiating contracts, did not return telephone calls.

    In Oakland, a state arbitrator recently allowed city officials to switch some officers from 10- to 12-hour workdays over the objection of the officers' union. The officers were represented by attorney Michael Rains, who works in the same law firm as Sansen.
    Survivor in good spirits

    Killed in Sunday's crash were Kristy Gough, 30, of San Leandro and Matt Peterson, 29, of San Francisco, who were on a training ride with 10 other cyclists. Also struck was 20-year-old Christopher Knapp of Germany, who suffered broken bones. He was released Tuesday from Stanford University Medical Center.

    Knapp is resting at his home in the San Mateo area, said Rob Artigo, 40, who was among the riders in Sunday's training group. "His spirits are incredibly good," Artigo said.

    The CHP said Wednesday it could forward its crash findings to Santa Clara County prosecutors in 30 to 60 days so they can make a charging decision.

    Sansen said she hoped Council would not be charged. She said, however, that she would not be surprised if her client faces charges of misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter.

    She said she believed the case did not amount to felony manslaughter, which requires a finding of gross negligence.
    Deputy advised not to talk

    Sansen said she had advised Council, at least for the time being, not to speak to investigators.

    "You want the truth on the record," she said. "What you don't want is someone having an emotional meltdown. There are cases where for days or weeks I don't allow a client to give a statement because they're not in an emotional state to give a coherent statement."

    Council is "completely devastated," said Sansen, who added that she told him not to read newspaper stories about the crash.

    Making matters worse for Council and his family, Sansen said, is that he had a sister who was struck and killed by a vehicle at age 7, when Council was 3 or 4.

    Council was hired as a sheriff's deputy 18 months ago, joining the department where his father is also a deputy. Council is on paid leave.

    A memorial service for Peterson is scheduled for 7 p.m. tonight at Sports Basement, 1590 Bryant St. in San Francisco. A remembrance for Gough is planned for 2 p.m. Sunday at the Five Rings Cycling Center at 297 N. Amphlett Blvd. in San Mateo.

    In addition, friends of Peterson and Gough are planning to ride to the accident site Saturday. The ride leaves from the parking lot of Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, 12345 El Monte Road. Organizers are asking cyclists to meet at 2:30 p.m. for a 3 p.m. departure.

  10. #10
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by seeker333 View Post
    Nope, sorry, you're mistaken - not the cyclists' fault, nor the deputy's (james council) fault. It was the Santa Clara Sheriff's Dept fault. They're the one's who forced the deputy to work such a "brutal", "exhausting" schedule. He simply had no choice in the matter. Council was only following orders.
    Oh I am well aware of that... my response was a sarcastic response to the way the article by San Jose Mercury News was written... with the blame focused on the cyclists, while leaving out any possible blame to the motorist.

    Sorry if it was misunderstood.

  11. #11
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by seeker333 View Post
    Nope, sorry, you're mistaken - not the cyclists' fault, nor the deputy's (james council) fault. It was the Santa Clara Sheriff's Dept fault. They're the one's who forced the deputy to work such a "brutal", "exhausting" schedule. He simply had no choice in the matter. Council was only following orders.
    BTW "only following orders" was the excuse that has been used through the ages... by people that should have known better. No sarcasm this time.

  12. #12
    __________ seeker333's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by genec View Post
    BTW "only following orders" was the excuse that has been used through the ages... by people that should have known better. No sarcasm this time.
    Yes, I understood your sarcasm, and you understood my allusion (nuremburg, milgram etc).

  13. #13
    www.chipsea.blogspot.com ChipSeal's Avatar
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    With popular media bringing this tragedy to the consciousness of co-workers and friends, an opportunity for advocacy presents its self. What message would be best? It should be short and simple, and easily sprinkled into a conversation when the subject is brought up.

    I would suggest pointing out that driving a car today is not taken seriously enough. People are cavalier about the responsibility of operating a car because driving is such a common and ordinary daily activity.

    When complaints of cyclist obstruction of traffic flow come up, I try to make this point: "It is the duty of every road user to pass slower traffic with due care and in a safe manner. This is true even if the slower vehicle is where he should be or not."

    What other "bullet points" might we prepare ourselves to say that will promote safer roads for all?
    Vehicular cycling techniques have not been tried and found difficult. They have been presumed difficult and not tried.

  14. #14
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChipSeal View Post

    What other "bullet points" might we prepare ourselves to say that will promote safer roads for all?
    Share the road... safely.

  15. #15
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChipSeal View Post
    ... I would suggest pointing out that driving a car today is not taken seriously enough. People are cavalier about the responsibility of operating a car because driving is such a common and ordinary daily activity.

    When complaints of cyclist obstruction of traffic flow come up, I try to make this point: "It is the duty of every road user to pass slower traffic with due care and in a safe manner. This is true even if the slower vehicle is where he should be or not." ...
    Spot-on, ChipSeal.
    "Early to bed, early to rise. Work like hell, and advertise." -- George Stahlman
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  16. #16
    Senior Member Kurt Erlenbach's Avatar
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    ChipSeal is exactly correct.

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