Local News - San Mateo
As dozens of mourners gathered Monday night to remember a Monta Vista High School sophomore who was hit and killed by a big rig while riding his bike to school, questions were emerging about whether the truck should have even been on the road where the accident happened.
More than 80 people in Cupertino have stopped at the site of an accident to mourn the death of the deceased teen. They lit candles and laid flowers to remember the 15-year old whose identity hasn't been released.
His grief-stricken mother buried her face in her hands, while his father addressed roughly 50 people who were gathered around them Monday evening for an impromptu memorial at the accident site.
"I want to say thank you on behalf of my son," the boy's father said.
The boy's parents along with Monta Vista High School students and parents shed tears and their grief.
"Right now we're all taking a moment to take in what just happened," said Monta Vista student Shannon Yu.
Earlier in the day, the boy's parents along with their younger son wept at the crash site as they lay flowers.
Sources tell KTVU it appears, based on its size, the big rig should not have been on the road, which is not approved for trucks.
Sources said the truck appears to be in violation of a city resolution which outlines that large trucks of a certain size require special permits and only operate between 9:30 in the morning and 3:30 in the afternoon.
Investigators say they want to know if the teenager's bike veered into the truck or if the truck veered into the bike lane.
Questions remain about how the teenager was hit and killed along McClellan Road near Bubb Road around 8 a.m. Monday morning.
Investigators say the big rig truck was stopped at a red light and the boy was wearing his helmet and backpack and stopped in the bike lane. When the light turned green, investigators estimate the truck was driving 5-10 miles per hour when the teen somehow got entangled in the rear trailer.
Investigators say the driver was unaware he had hit the boy and was flagged down by witnesses and is cooperating with the investigation.
One Monta Vista freshman told KTVU his friend witnessed it.
"He said like it was scary. He called 911 and it was traumatic," said the teen.
Students said the school immediately had the teachers take roll and closed the campus for lunch. Many students bike the same route.
"Normally it felt pretty safe but then on Wednesdays on garbage pickup day--the garbage trucks got pretty close to the lane," said Monta Vista freshman Ananth.
"Before today I did feel safe now I'm probably very scared to do so," said Aditya Ramkumar, another Monta Vista freshman.
His father plans to drive him to school for at least the next few days.
"I don't know if it's really necessary to have trucks go by on this road," said parent Ram Ramani.
The school says it plans to increase counseling for both students and staff on-campus on Tuesday.
Businesses in San Francisco on Monday night said the home team may be on the road, but that the Giants' success will still have a positive impact here in the Bay Area.
Some merchants say the orange and black has brought them an abundance of green.
Baseball is a game of statistics and some businesses told KTVU the Giants' victories mean record-setting sales and they're ready for more.
At House of Bagels on Geary in the Richmond District, manager Ryan Hui showed off Giants-themed cookies.
"We have the Go Giants. They changed from the SF Giants. Over here, we have the pumpkin spice," said Hui.
The sweet smell of baked goods plays into the superstitions of baseball. Workers said the Giants' loss on Friday brought in customers.
"A lot of people were coming in and grabbing all our Giants cookies and the bagels, hoping that it would bring them some luck for the Giants to win the next game," said House of Bagels employee Gwen Evans.
It appears the baked items worked their magic with the Giants emjoying back-to-back wins over the weekend.
The Orange and Black sweet treats are on their own winning streak. They are among the bakery's best sellers.
Hui expexts more big business Tuesday.
"It's going to be crazy. I don't know if people are going to come here. But the morning after, when you're hung over you'll be over getting the bagels, for sure, " said Hui.
Sales has been frighteningly good at SF Party, a novelty store in the Tenderloin. The team's success combined with Halloween sales means a 20 percent increase in business.
A wall of Giants themed items is now down to a stand. The store expects another shipment hopefully by Tuesday morning.
"Everyone comes in, usually last minute right before the game [and] wants like a bunch of balloons, some merchandise, hats to wear. Very last minute, " said SF Party's Michael Hinks.
At Balboa Cafe in the Marina, general manager Lisa Leventhal described the excitingmood.
"It's absolutely electrifying everyday in here," she said.
Leventhal says she has seen a record setting number of patrons. To boost spirits, the restaurant and bar is offering its employees baseball caps, while its patrons get rally rags to go with sparkling wine and beer to pay tribute to the Giants.
"We thought we'd be seeing numbers very similar to the 2010 series, the 2012 series but we've been blowing them out of the park, " said Leventhal.
Out of the park is what merchants hope sales will be for Tuesday's Game 6.
Inside Harrington's Bar and Grill in San Francisco Monday night, a few dozen voters listened as two of the Bay Area’s legal minds debated the merits of Proposition 47.
Known as the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act, Proposition 47 would make certain drug and property crimes -- such as drug possession, grand theft, shoplifting and check forgery -- misdemeanors.
San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi spoke in favor of it.
“We are spending more money on corrections than higher education in California,” Adachi told the crowd.
San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe argued against it.
“One of the other big problems for me is that it is not offender based. It's offense based,” said Wagstaffe.
Supporters say millions of dollars would be saved from shorter jail and prison terms, and that savings would help fund schools, victim advocacy and drug treatment programs. The Yes on 47 website lists Lt. Govenor Gavin Newsom, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon and the Bay Area Crime Survivors Network as supporters.
“This is about making our communities safer. We're talking about crimes that should not be treated as felonies -- possession of drugs. There are 18 other states that treat possession of drugs as a misdemeanor and California needs to follow that lead,” said Adachi.
Those against say it potentially releases 10,000 felons and reduces penalties for stealing guns and possession of date rape drugs. The No on 47 website lists Senator Dianne Feinstein, the California Police Chief's Association and the California District Attorney's Association as endorsements.
“The problem with Prop 47 is that somebody can have a long criminal record of robbery, kidnapping, carjacking, domestic violence even human trafficking, and if they commit one of these felonies - now felonies - they'll only be able to be charged as a misdemeanor,” said Wagstaffe.
Both Adachi and Wagstaffe said they took part in the debate in hopes of better educating voters when they head to the polls Nov. 4.
The chancellor of California community colleges testified in Superior Court Monday that he believes a commission's decision to terminate the accreditation of City College of San Francisco "was not an appropriate action."
"I believe the college does not deserve to have its accreditation terminated and to do so would be a tragedy for the community and, most importantly, for all the students involved," Chancellor Brice Harris told San Francisco Superior Court Judge Curtis Karnow.
Harris, who oversees the state's 112 public community colleges, testified on the first day of the trial of a lawsuit filed by San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera against the western regional branch of the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges.
Herrera claims the commission violated the state's Unfair Competition Law by using unfair, biased and illegal procedures when it decided in 2013 to terminate the college's accreditation.
He is seeking a court order overturning that decision and requiring the Novato-based commission to start a new evaluation process.
The termination was originally due to take effect on July 31, but in January, Karnow issued a preliminary injunction suspending the termination until the completion of trial proceedings.
Karnow is hearing the case without a jury and is expected to issue a written decision sometime after the close of the five-day trial.
Herrera filed the lawsuit last year on behalf of the people of California. City College itself is not a party in the case.
The unfair practices alleged by Herrera include a perceived or actual conflict of interest in the appointment of Commission President Barbara Beno's husband, Laney College Career and Technical Education Dean Peter Crabtree, to a 2012 committee evaluating the San Francisco college.
The lawsuit also alleges that committee and a follow-up committee in 2013 had too few academic members, as opposed to administrators; that the commission failed to provide the college with due process to respond to its charges; and that it was biased against the college's mission of "open access" to the community.
The commission in court filings has denied that it was prejudiced or unfair and contended the decision to withdraw the accreditation was "absolutely correct" and was based on "enormous problems facing CCSF."
The group's 2013 decision cited alleged problems with financial accountability, institutional governance and compliance with standards for instructional programs and student support services.
During cross-examination by commission attorney Andrew Sclar Monday, Harris said that when the commission issued its report in July 2013, he believed the college was "significantly out of compliance" with accrediting standards.
"That's what the report reflected. I took that at face value," he said.
The report and conversations with Beno led him to urge the community college system's board of governors to appoint a special trustee, Robert Agrella, to replace the college's elected board of trustees in leading reforms, he said.
Since then, however, Harris testified, "I've learned that there is a tremendous amount of teaching and learning going on at the college and it is serving students in the community.
"I think the teaching and learning at the college continues to be excellent and it gets better all the time," he said.
Harris also said the college is now in "considerably better shape financially."
Herrera's first witness today was City College English professor and faculty union leader Alisa Messer, who said she was shocked to learn after the evaluation that Beno's husband was on the committee.
"I was shocked, frankly, to discover that the commission president's husband had been to visit City College and was making decisions about the college," she testified.
"It strained credulity to believe there was no conversation at the dinner table or anywhere else and that the decision was independent," she said.
Messer said that if the college is forced to close, "It would be a huge, huge loss for San Francisco and for hundreds of thousands of students and our community overall."
Both sides in the trial have said in court filings that they plan to call Beno as a witness. Lawyers from Herrera's office expect to call her to the stand Tuesday afternoon, according to an office spokesman.
In addition to the preliminary injunction granted by Karnow, the college received a second reprieve in July when the commission granted its application to seek a newly created status known as "restoration" while it attempts to meet accrediting standards.
A new evaluation team is scheduled to visit the college the week of Nov. 17 and the commission is expected to decide in January whether to grant the status, which could last for up to two years.
The commission has argued in a brief filed with Karnow that the new process gives the college the second chance for evaluation that it wanted, and that further court orders are unnecessary.
But the city lawyers contend the restoration option puts the college in a precarious position because the commission's future decision can't be appealed and because the college would have to be in full compliance with all accreditation standards, rather than the normal, substantial compliance.
A group of San Jose State students came together Monday evening to mourn the death of a classmate who was killed over the weekend by a DUI driver who fled the scene.
Friends and fraternity brothers of 23-year-old Chi Lam gathered close to the scene of the accident that claimed his life. The 6th year computer engineering student was set to graduate this coming spring.
San Jose police said the accident happened near the 100 block of South 10th St. close to 1 a.m. Sunday morning. Officers said the driver, who they identified as 22-year-old Solomon Friese, was traveling southbound on 10th Street when he hit Lam.
The student was standing in the bicycle lane waiting to cross the street when the accident happened. Pam Tirri was sleeping in her SUV near the scene of the and heard the collision.
"We heard a thump," said Tirri. "A skid and then a thump. I go, 'Open the door and see if somebody got hit!' He said, 'There's somebody on the ground.' And I said 'Please let's go check.'"
Police said after the accident Solomon continued on for several more blocks, colliding with a car near the intersection of South 8th Street and San Salvador Avenue.
"I don't understand it. Why would you drive off if you know you hurt someone?" said Tirri.
Officers said when they arrived at that second scene, Solomon came from his home and identified himself. Officers arrested him for felony hit and run and said he may have been impaired.
Lam's fraternity brothers said they are focusing their grief by raising money to give to his family to help them with expenses.
Carlos Rodriguez, the chapter president of the Delta Sigma Phi fraternity, said they will be raising money through selling ribbons on campus and in an online campaign.
"We came up with a GoFundMe.com website in which people can donate online," explained Rodriguez.
At a memorial service Monday night, fraternity members said they choose to remember Lam for how he lived, not for how he died.
"Tonight was having prayer for Chi, and just always remembering him, for who he was and for what he did," said Rodriguez.
High school students in Cupertino were shaken by the loss of a classmate after a 15-year-old boy was struck and killed by a big rig on his way to school early Monday.
The accident happened at around 8 a.m. as the sophomore was riding his bicycle on McClellan Road near Bubb Road, not far from Monta Vista High School. The teenager was wearing a helmet and in the bike lane when he was killed.
“It’s a shock because I also bike,” said Monta Vista student Brent Nordyke. “I feel sad for the parents because they are probably really shocked and sad.”
Fellow students at Monta Vista High School said they were stunned after hearing the teen was killed on his way to school.
"I’m slightly more scared,” said Monta Vista High School student Michael Hsieh. “That something random can happen and you can lose your life like that.”
Witnesses reported a big rig somehow struck the boy on his bike. The driver of the big rig kept going. He hadn’t realized he hit and killed the teen. Witnesses flagged the driver down.
“Investigators told me he was shocked that he was involved in an accident,” said Sgt. Kurtis Stenderup of the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office. “Once he learned of that, he's been very cooperative with us. We are still trying to determine what he saw, what damages are on that truck and what evidence is on that truck.”
Bicyclists said it’s a tricky spot with railroad tracks and heavy traffic coming from neighboring businesses, three schools and De Anza College are all in the same area. “
I always worry about myself and I’m a pretty experienced and cautious rider,” said James Morales of Cupertino. “I don't like to tango with cars. That's for sure.”
“I was hoping for this not to happen,” said Cupertino City Council member Barry Chang.
Chang said he has proposed shuttle bus services for students at this intersection in the past to relieve traffic congestion. He said cars, bikes and students walking all sharing the narrow road is not safe.
“This is very sad for our community,” said Ellyn Stark of Cupertiono. “I don't recall ever having a child killed while going to school.”
The city council is also considering allowing bike riders under the age of 16 to use the sidewalks. The truck is linked to Moonlight Express Company out of Tracy.