Almanac

News - September 21, 2011

Investigation of bike fatality leads CHP to change findings

• Cyclist in Alpine Road fatal bicycle-truck accident not at fault.

by Dave Boyce

Human DNA found near the front axle of a tractor-trailer truck has led investigators from the California Highway Patrol to conclude that the November 4, 2010, collision and death of Los Altos Hills cyclist Lauren Ward was not the fault of Ms. Ward, authorities said.

The accident re-enactment and subsequent investigation, which has been ongoing since December and is now over, does not conclude that the driver of the truck is at fault, CHP Officer Art Montiel told the Almanac.

Ms. Ward died at the intersection of Interstate 280 and westbound Alpine Road. The driver has not been charged but no longer drives, this having been his third accident that resulted in a fatality, Mr. Montiel said.

The CHP initially determined that Ms. Ward had struck the side of the truck, in part because the truck showed no damage from the collision, Mr. Montiel said.

The discovery of the DNA and its position near the left side of axle is what prompted investigators to reconsider their findings and conclude that Ms. Ward was struck by the left front of the truck cab.

Though investigators had Ms. Ward's DNA, they have not concluded that the DNA found is that of Ms. Ward, Mr. Montiel said.

"They were not able to compare the two," he said, adding that he will be asking investigators why such a comparison was not possible.

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