News

Menlo Park fire district sued over crash

A collision between a fire vehicle and car last fall has led to a lawsuit filed against the Menlo Park Fire Protection District and the firefighter who was behind the wheel.

The suit, filed in San Mateo County Superior Court on Aug. 1, by two people who were in the car -- Jose Cardosa and Feliciano Curup -- asks for compensation related to unspecified injuries, loss of wages and property damage resulting from alleged negligence on the part of the defendants.

The collision occurred on Aug. 20, 2013, at the intersection of El Camino Real and Ravenswood Avenue at about 10:19 p.m., based on police and fire district records.

Battalion Chief James Stevens, responding to a shooting in East Palo Alto, was driving a 2008 Chevrolet Suburban with lights and sirens activated when he made a left turn on a red light onto Ravenswood Avenue, according to the records. The driver of the other car, a 1998 Volkswagen Jetta, reportedly heading north on El Camino Real at 35 miles per hour, was unable to stop before entering the intersection, and the two vehicles collided.

Mr. Stevens was found at fault for failure to yield, according to Menlo Park police.

Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman said the battalion chief is a 32-year veteran with an exceptional driving record.

"The fire district regrets any situations negatively involving the general public when responding to emergency incidents, since our primary mission is to protect life and property," Chief Schapelhouman said. "Each year our personnel safely respond to over 8,000 calls for service all over the fire district."

Additional fire personnel responded to the accident scene and provided medical treatment to the occupants of the car, he said. The two occupants of the fire vehicle were not injured.

Juan Simon, the attorney for the plaintiffs, did not respond to a request for comment.

Comments

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Posted by Wow
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Aug 12, 2014 at 12:20 pm

That is horrible - I hope the occupants are able to return to their lives ASAP.

However, I thought I had to pull over when I heard sirens or saw lights, regardless of where I was. I guess I don't have to.


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Posted by Come On
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Aug 12, 2014 at 12:22 pm

[Post removed. Please don't speculate on motives.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Wut
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 12, 2014 at 12:30 pm

[Post removed; same poster using different names on this thread.]


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Posted by get real
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 12, 2014 at 1:00 pm

Attention all you cynics and speed-readers: Did you by any chance see the sentence: "Mr. Stevens was found at fault for failure to yield, according to Menlo Park police." That's Battalion Chief James Stevens, by the way, not the people in the other car.

And by the way, regarding the driver of that other car, the story says he "was unable to stop before entering the intersection, and the two vehicles collided."

And why did they wait a year? Maybe they were waiting for investigations to be completed, and the district and its insurance carrier to respond to earlier petitions for compensation. The law gives you a year to do that, remember? This is typical, and you all probably know that, don't you? Is it possible some other message is being relayed here?


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Posted by pearl
a resident of another community
on Aug 12, 2014 at 1:31 pm

pearl is a registered user.

CVC Section 21806 Authorized Emergency Vehicles

Authorized Emergency Vehicles

21806. Upon the immediate approach of an authorized emergency vehicle which is sounding a siren and which has at least one lighted lamp exhibiting red light that is visible, under normal atmospheric conditions, from a distance of 1,000 feet to the front of the vehicle, the surrounding traffic shall, except as otherwise directed by a traffic officer, do the following:

(a) (1) Except as required under paragraph (2), the driver of every other vehicle shall yield the right-of-way and shall immediately drive to the right-hand edge or curb of the highway, clear of any intersection, and thereupon shall stop and remain stopped until the authorized emergency vehicle has passed.

(2) A person driving a vehicle in an exclusive or preferential use lane shall exit that lane immediately upon determining that the exit can be accomplished with reasonable safety.

(b) The operator of every street car shall immediately stop the street car, clear of any intersection, and remain stopped until the authorized emergency vehicle has passed.

(c) All pedestrians upon the highway shall proceed to the nearest curb or place of safety and remain there until the authorized emergency vehicle has passed.

Amended Sec. 68, Ch. 1154, Stats. 1996. Effective September 30, 1996.


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Posted by re: get real
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Aug 12, 2014 at 1:38 pm

[Post removed; same poster using different names on this thread.]


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Posted by Playin' the race card?
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 12, 2014 at 1:42 pm

[Post removed; same poster using different names on this thread.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Walter Murray
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Aug 12, 2014 at 1:47 pm

[Post removed; same poster using different names on this thread.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by get real
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 12, 2014 at 2:20 pm

Pearl, Thanks for the CVC citation. I see a lot of people on the road who could use the reminder.

However, does anyone really believe that the Menlo Park police investigators didn't know the law? In spite of their knowledge and expertise, they made a determination, and according to the article it was that "Mr. Stevens (the battalion chief) was found at fault for failure to yield, according to Menlo Park police."

I simply don't understand why people who weren't there and don't know the details of how this unfortunate incident played out can make assumptions and disrespect the people who were injured in the crash, even when the police department has investigated and determined the injured driver wasn't at fault.


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Posted by Come On
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Aug 12, 2014 at 2:34 pm

I was raised that if a emergency vehicle with lights/sirens displayed, they had the right away and you were supposed
to yield to them and give them the immediate right away, where possible regardless of your direction of travel. Now
with that being said, all the emergency vehicles need to be vigilant as well, it is not a free-for-all on the streets !
Kudos to Menlo PD for not covering up the incident. The second person in the fire vehicle, what is their take on what
happened and were they authorized to be in the emergency vehicle at the time of the incident ?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by SteveC
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 12, 2014 at 3:07 pm

SteveC is a registered user.

Come On: Good point about the other person in the emergency vehicle.

Peter C: Can you talk about this??


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