News

Coroner's Office identifies pedestrian killed in Atherton collision Monday

A man was struck and killed on El Camino Real, between Encinal and Atherton avenues, Monday, Oct. 26, morning. Image courtesy Google Maps

The San Mateo County Coroner's Office has identified a Menlo Park man killed Monday, Oct. 26, after he was hit by a car while walking across El Camino Real in Atherton, according to town police.

At about 6:38 a.m., a woman driving a green Ford Expedition southbound between Atherton and Encinal avenues hit the man, said Atherton police Sgt. Joe Wade in an email.

The pedestrian, 61-year-old James Lazcano, suffered major injuries and was transferred to Stanford Hospital, Wade said. He was pronounced dead at Stanford.

The man was not in a crosswalk when he was hit, police said. Police interviewed the driver, a 63-year-old Redwood City woman, and reported that there was no indication of wrongdoing or negligence on the part of the driver.

The roadway was temporarily closed Monday morning following the collision, but reopened by 8:46 a.m., according to the town website.

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Coroner's Office identifies pedestrian killed in Atherton collision Monday

by / Almanac

Uploaded: Mon, Oct 26, 2020, 11:30 am
Updated: Tue, Oct 27, 2020, 11:44 am

The San Mateo County Coroner's Office has identified a Menlo Park man killed Monday, Oct. 26, after he was hit by a car while walking across El Camino Real in Atherton, according to town police.

At about 6:38 a.m., a woman driving a green Ford Expedition southbound between Atherton and Encinal avenues hit the man, said Atherton police Sgt. Joe Wade in an email.

The pedestrian, 61-year-old James Lazcano, suffered major injuries and was transferred to Stanford Hospital, Wade said. He was pronounced dead at Stanford.

The man was not in a crosswalk when he was hit, police said. Police interviewed the driver, a 63-year-old Redwood City woman, and reported that there was no indication of wrongdoing or negligence on the part of the driver.

The roadway was temporarily closed Monday morning following the collision, but reopened by 8:46 a.m., according to the town website.

Comments

gps
Registered user
Las Lomitas School
on Oct 26, 2020 at 3:41 pm
gps, Las Lomitas School
Registered user
on Oct 26, 2020 at 3:41 pm
17 people like this

No wrongdoing? The driver ran someone over! That is always wrongdoing. It doesn't matter where the person was. Pedestrians always have the right if way. The driver belongs in jail with their license permanently revoked.


Laurie
Registered user
Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Oct 26, 2020 at 4:25 pm
Laurie, Menlo Park: Felton Gables
Registered user
on Oct 26, 2020 at 4:25 pm
12 people like this

To the writer: Angela Swartz:
From the California DMV driver's handbook, "If you approach a pedestrian crossing at a corner or other crosswalk, even if the crosswalk is in the middle of the block, at a corner with or without traffic signal lights, WHETHER OR NOT THE CROSSWALK IS MARKED by painted lines, you are required to exercise caution and reduce your speed, or stop if necessary, to ensure the safety of the pedestrian."
People seem to have forgotten this.


pogo
Registered user
Woodside: other
on Oct 26, 2020 at 4:43 pm
pogo, Woodside: other
Registered user
on Oct 26, 2020 at 4:43 pm
30 people like this

Let's not be so quick to criticize the driver or the pedestrian.

There have been several pedestrian deaths on Atherton's section of El Camino Real over the past decade. In some cases, it was the driver but in at least one, it turned out the pedestrian darted into traffic and the driver was unable to stop quickly enough.

Be patient. There will be an investigation and we'll know the facts soon enough.


Liz
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Oct 26, 2020 at 5:55 pm
Liz, Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Oct 26, 2020 at 5:55 pm
8 people like this

I don't see how this can happen regardless of whether or not the pedestrian was crossing in the crosswalk. the speed limit on that section of el camino is 35mph. was the driver going 35mph? that is yet to be determined. also, i hope that a BAL was performed on the driver and a complete toxicology screen because it just seems odd that if the speed limit is 35mph that that couldn't have been avoided. i hope the police do a through investigation. no wrongdoing or negligence? i have to agree with the previous comment and say how can causing the death of an individual be looked at so callously without any empathy for the family of the deceased.


Liz
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Oct 26, 2020 at 6:15 pm
Liz, Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Oct 26, 2020 at 6:15 pm
8 people like this

and they need to check the driver's phone to see if she was texting or using her phone because although the sun technically has not risen at that time of the morning it is "light" and she should have been able to see him.


Menlo Voter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Oct 26, 2020 at 9:05 pm
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Oct 26, 2020 at 9:05 pm
33 people like this

gps and liz:

Not all auto vs ped collisions are the driver's fault. In fact, quite often the pedestrian is at fault. At the time of the collision it was still dark. Was the ped wearing dark clothing? Did he step out in front of the car leaving no room for the driver to stop? There are many reasons the pedestrian can be at fault. The investigation will identify who was at fault.


AuggiesMan
Registered user
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 27, 2020 at 12:54 pm
AuggiesMan, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
Registered user
on Oct 27, 2020 at 12:54 pm
15 people like this

It saddens me that people rush to judge the driver without knowing any of the facts. Was the pedestrian at an intersection? We don't know, Laurie. Pedestrians always have the right of way and the driver should be locked up, GPS? Wow. Talk about not having empathy, but I'd have some for the driver until knowing the facts.


Thoughtful
Registered user
Atherton: other
on Oct 27, 2020 at 12:59 pm
Thoughtful, Atherton: other
Registered user
on Oct 27, 2020 at 12:59 pm
7 people like this

Also the possibility it was the driver's fault but not a crime. An accident isn't a crime unless the driver was reckless (drunk, high, or driving irresponsibly). Fault doesn't necessarily mean crime.


Ask questions from the place of your heart.
Registered user
Woodside: other
on Oct 27, 2020 at 1:01 pm
Ask questions from the place of your heart., Woodside: other
Registered user
on Oct 27, 2020 at 1:01 pm
18 people like this

Can you imagine what it's like to hit and kill another human being? I do know one person who did this (and it wasn't his fault at all) and it has marked him so deeply for the rest of his life.
I know most of these comments are from trolls, but still the quick leap to such mean conviction is so hard to see.
It's dark now at that time of the morning. He was not in a crosswalk, bless his heart. We on this page don't know what happened.
Could everyone else who posts either exercise compassion or hold their opinions in their hearts? We have so much hatefulness as it is these days, can't we try a different approach here?


Liz
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Oct 27, 2020 at 1:16 pm
Liz, Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Oct 27, 2020 at 1:16 pm
6 people like this

bottom line is she took a life, accident or not. and she is the only one that will know what happened. i drive along a busy road at night and go below the speed limit because i have had pedestrians dart out of nowhere. if she was reaching for her phone, coffee, speeding, etc. nobody will ever know that. what she self reports is all that will be known, the deceased is not here to tell what happened. and no i am not persecuting the driver, just saying.


Bobnoir
Registered user
Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Oct 27, 2020 at 2:01 pm
Bobnoir, Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
Registered user
on Oct 27, 2020 at 2:01 pm
11 people like this

At 6:30am, the light level is rather low even with street lights. Stop the blame game before all the factors are considered.


Menlo Voter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Oct 27, 2020 at 3:24 pm
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Oct 27, 2020 at 3:24 pm
4 people like this

Interesting statistics from the NHTSA regarding Auto/ped fatalities.

In 24% of cases where the driver had no alcohol in their blood, the pedestrian was legally intoxicated. In case where the driver had alcohol in their blood, but were not legally intoxicated, 2% of pedestrians were legally intoxicated and 2% had no alcohol in their blood. In 9% of cases where the driver was intoxicated, the pedestrian had no alcohol in their system. In 7% of cases where the driver was DUI, the pedestrian was also legally intoxicated.

Sometimes the pedestrian is at fault in their own accident/fatality.

Web Link


Alan
Registered user
Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Oct 27, 2020 at 3:25 pm
Alan, Menlo Park: Belle Haven
Registered user
on Oct 27, 2020 at 3:25 pm
16 people like this

After a couple attempts at crossing El Camino in Atherton away from a red light but in a crosswalk as a bicyclist - I just avoid the general area, cross at Oak Grove instead. Away from Oak Grove, El Camino is a difficult road to cross safely. It's tragic, I don't know who's to blame, I just know what I do to stay safe.


Menlo Voter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Oct 27, 2020 at 3:31 pm
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Oct 27, 2020 at 3:31 pm
13 people like this

I was coming onto ECR from Buckthorn heading south shortly after this accident occurred. There were police, fire trucks and an ambulance on scene. Judging from where those vehicles were parked, it looked like the collision occurred north of Watkins. There is no crosswalk, marked or unmarked in that area. It was still dark at that time. It was terrible that someone was killed, but stop blaming the driver. You don't know what happened. None of us will until the investigation is completed.


Liz
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Oct 27, 2020 at 4:59 pm
Liz, Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Oct 27, 2020 at 4:59 pm
3 people like this

i think the reason why i am so upset with this incident is the way it was written by Angela Swartz, it is poorly written. she has no empathy for the families involved.

"there is no indication of wrongdoing or negligence on the part of the driver."

that is the part that is so upsetting to me, i have re-read the comments and most say not to blame either party until the investigation is done but when i read this it seems that the determination is made, a life dismissed. i don't think she should have said this or perhaps added
no indication or wrongdoing at this time pending investigation.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 27, 2020 at 5:16 pm
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Oct 27, 2020 at 5:16 pm
18 people like this

The reporter wrote "Police interviewed the driver, a 63-year-old Redwood City woman, and there is no indication of wrongdoing or negligence on the part of the driver."

That statement was made by the police, NOT by the reporter.

Thank you Angela for reporting the known facts.


Liz
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Oct 27, 2020 at 5:22 pm
Liz, Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Oct 27, 2020 at 5:22 pm
3 people like this

to peter carpenter
that does not say that the police said that but you are seeing it as it implied that


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 27, 2020 at 5:36 pm
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Oct 27, 2020 at 5:36 pm
10 people like this

Liz - Do you really believe that the reporter just made up those words - which are a subordinate clause in a sentence that begins "Police interviewed the driver,....."?


ln
Registered user
Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Oct 27, 2020 at 6:15 pm
ln, Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
Registered user
on Oct 27, 2020 at 6:15 pm
9 people like this

No one is dismissing a life. Sometimes accidents happen. Sometimes a pedestrian walks out in front of a car. Sometimes the pedestrian has headphones on or is looking at their phone or is drunk. Sometimes the driver is. Police seemed to have done their job. Seemed to say there was no indication of negligence or wrongdoing on part of the driver. Nothing yet on the pedestrian. Don't be so quick to blame when you don't know all the facts.


Menlo Voter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Oct 27, 2020 at 7:49 pm
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Oct 27, 2020 at 7:49 pm
4 people like this

Liz:

the reporter reported. She did her job. Who, What, where, when and how. Those are what a good reporter reports. You'll notice empathy is not included among the things to be reported.


Brian
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 27, 2020 at 9:40 pm
Brian, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Oct 27, 2020 at 9:40 pm
11 people like this

There are many ways that this can not be the drivers fault. Having seen several pedestrians that did not want to walk to a marked crosswalk but instead decide to take their chances I can see where this could be a no fault accident. Luckily we have a police department that will investigate the accident and determine if there is blame and place it on the correct party.

Liz, your posts do sound like you are convicted the driver is to blame based on the limited information in the article. That is not fair to them and I disagree that the driver is the only person who will know what happened. The police will investigate and they can look at the computer in the car to know the speed, they can easily find out if the drivers was on the phone (they could have legally been hands free) or texting (doubtful given the drivers age). Lighting and what the pedestrian was wearing also comes into play.

Having been in a car that hit a pedestrian I can assure you it is not always the drivers fault. In the case I was in the pedestrian was 100% to blame (determined in court).


Joe
Registered user
another community
on Oct 28, 2020 at 3:14 pm
Joe, another community
Registered user
on Oct 28, 2020 at 3:14 pm
7 people like this

Some inadequate reporting here.

In the first paragraph, you say the driver was hit by a car. You seem to deny the driver of any agency. A more accurate description would have been, "A woman hit a pedestrian with her SUV." You wouldn't say, "A gun shot a victim", would you? No, you would say "The accused shot a victim." When traffic violence is concerned, however, reporters often default to placing blame on the pedestrian or minimizing the culpability of the driver.

Also, there is no context here. Anyone who is familiar with this area knows that crashes and/or deaths happen too regularly. A better reporter would have tried to determine whether this road is unsafe and perhaps the City could have done more to protect the vulnerable user. Instead of simply saying that the ped wasn't in the crosswalk, why not determine whether the closest sidewalk was nearby (or do we simply assume that it is OK to have crosswalk spaced so far apart that any reasonable pedestrian would likely cross where most convenient?). How many crashes occur per year? Do other pedestrians feel safe? Are there proposals in the works for improvements (I believe there are)?

Furthermore, the reporter simply regurgitates the Police statement. Why not interview the victim's family? Maybe the victim was a safety nut who wouldn't take chances here, increasing the probability that we don't fully understand what happened. The article mentions an email from the Police. Did the reporter even interview the officer or did she simply base her story off of a single email.

I encourage the author and editors to take a look at this great article on improving coverage of traffic violence: Web Link


Liz
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Oct 28, 2020 at 4:33 pm
Liz, Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Oct 28, 2020 at 4:33 pm
7 people like this

I agree Joe, it was very poorly written. Angela Swartz needs to have her poorly written articles overseen by a more experienced writer because this is a poor job of conveying news.


Lori
Registered user
another community
on Oct 28, 2020 at 5:45 pm
Lori, another community
Registered user
on Oct 28, 2020 at 5:45 pm
6 people like this

"The victim was not in the crosswalk." Wow. I am saddened by the level of victim shaming from Atherton PD and The Almanac. Would either make a comment on the victim's manner of dress if this were a case of sexual assault?

Why do we assume that pedestrians are safe when they are in the crosswalk??? Does a crosswalk magically protect them from a distracted or speeding driver in their 5,000 pound SUV?


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 28, 2020 at 5:51 pm
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Oct 28, 2020 at 5:51 pm
6 people like this

"The victim was not in the crosswalk."

This is a fact.

Reporters report facts.

No assumption is made about "Why do we assume that pedestrians are safe when they are in the crosswalk??? Does a crosswalk magically protect them from a distracted or speeding driver in their 5,000 pound SUV?"


Lori
Registered user
another community
on Oct 28, 2020 at 8:53 pm
Lori, another community
Registered user
on Oct 28, 2020 at 8:53 pm
Like this comment

Peter, the question is why the reporter (and Police) choose to report some facts and not others.

In covering a rape case, I would not want the Police or reporter to report on how short the victim's skirt was (a fact) and ignore that several rapes had occurred in the same fraternity in the past year (another fact). I think that mentioning the first fact is disrespectful to the victim and leaving out the second fact prevents us from addressing the systemic problem.

Hopefully our reporting on traffic violence will evolve as has our reporting on sexual violence.


Liz
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Oct 28, 2020 at 10:08 pm
Liz, Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Oct 28, 2020 at 10:08 pm
8 people like this

Yes Peter, the pedestrian was not in a crosswalk, that's because there is no crosswalk there to use! why not report the driver was and remained in her lane, was she! if he was crossing the northbound lanes first and she was traveling southbound he would have been clearly visible. these are the neighborhoods in which i grew up so i know them very well. i cannot believe that after so many casualties in that section of el camino that atherton has not put any crosswalks in that section. many people from homes in surrounding area cross over to get to the bus stop which is there. her writing is that of a complete amateur.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 29, 2020 at 11:28 am
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Oct 29, 2020 at 11:28 am
4 people like this

" i cannot believe that after so many casualties in that section of el camino that atherton has not put any crosswalks in that section."


Wrong. There is a HAWK signal at Isabella and another near Stone Pine Ln.

I live IN this neighborhood and uses these HAWK crossings frequently.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 29, 2020 at 11:34 am
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Oct 29, 2020 at 11:34 am
2 people like this

These two HAWK crosswalks are 1242 ft apart.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 29, 2020 at 12:11 pm
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Oct 29, 2020 at 12:11 pm
2 people like this

For comparison purposes it is 1072 ft between the crosswalks in Menlo Park on ECR at Valparaiso and at Oak Grove with no intervening crosswalks.


And it is 750 ft from the Alejandro Hawk to the traffic lights at Atherton Ave.

Looks like Atherton has ECR pretty well covered for pedestrian crossings.


Liz
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Oct 29, 2020 at 12:22 pm
Liz, Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Oct 29, 2020 at 12:22 pm
4 people like this

well you are correct Peter, or somewhat correct. the HAWK crosswalks are there but not as close as you may think, 0.7 miles apart (3696 feet). I am just going by my own experiences while i lived in that neighborhood and know that despite my physical disabilities it was not easy crossing el camino to get to the bus stop on the side of the southbound lanes to get to safeway etc. but perhaps you have never had to use the bus system to buy your groceries etc.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 29, 2020 at 12:23 pm
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Oct 29, 2020 at 12:23 pm
Like this comment

Correction:

And it is 750 ft from the Isabella Hawk to the traffic lights at Atherton Ave.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 29, 2020 at 2:43 pm
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Oct 29, 2020 at 2:43 pm
2 people like this

" but not as close as you may think, 0.7 miles apart (3696 feet)."

I checked check again and measured them on Google Earth.

1300 ft from the traffic lights at Atherton Ave to the Isabella Hawk

1242 ft from the Hawk at Isabella to the Hawk at Alejandro.


Menlo Voter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Oct 29, 2020 at 3:47 pm
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Oct 29, 2020 at 3:47 pm
4 people like this

Liz:

the fact that the pedestrian was not in a crosswalk was mentioned because it is well known that crossing outside of a crosswalk increases the risk to the pedestrian. No, crossing in a crosswalk is not perfectly safe but it does offer some level of reduced risk when compared to crossing outside a crosswalk. Especially at night.


pogo
Registered user
Woodside: other
on Oct 30, 2020 at 9:28 am
pogo, Woodside: other
Registered user
on Oct 30, 2020 at 9:28 am
2 people like this

The other factor is that drivers are usually alert to someone in a crosswalk. You can argue the point all you like, but most drivers are not as alert to someone walking directly into a busy street with fast moving cars where no crosswalks are around. Drivers often don't have a lot of time to react by the time they see someone, especially if the are in a line of moving cars. While crosswalks don't offer perfect protection, drivers can expect to find pedestrians using them.

A few years ago, a another pedestrian was killed crossing El Camino Real near this area - also NOT in a crosswalk. The investigation showed that he had literally darted out into traffic and the driver didn't have a chance to miss him. That fatality severely traumatized the faultless young woman who was driving her car and she now lives daily with the horror of that accident.

1. Pedestrians should use crosswalks.
2. Drivers should pay attention.


Mike
Registered user
another community
on Oct 30, 2020 at 11:06 am
Mike, another community
Registered user
on Oct 30, 2020 at 11:06 am
2 people like this

The fact is that ECR is a death trap for those who use it without the protection of airbags and a carbon steel frame. It was designed for cars, not for people on foot or bike. There is no political will to invest in needed traffic calming or 24x7 enforcement. Thus, the Police, media, and the Race to the Next Red Light crowd steer the conversation to what the victim should have done to prevent their demise.

If several people were killed in the same location by a "gang" member from another community, we would have stepped up Police activity, in depth coverage from the media, and action from elected officials. No one would be blaming the victim for not walking around without a bullet proof vest or a handgun. When multiple pedestrians die in the same location, however, we get fleeting attention from the Police and media, largely blaming the victim. Politicians are nowhere to be found, fearing that more attention will ultimately force them to make hard choices that may result in vocal opposition from the Race to the Next Red Light'ers.


Liz
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Oct 30, 2020 at 3:05 pm
Liz, Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Oct 30, 2020 at 3:05 pm
2 people like this

thank you Mike, well said


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 30, 2020 at 3:13 pm
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Oct 30, 2020 at 3:13 pm
6 people like this

"When multiple pedestrians die in the same location, however, we get fleeting attention from the Police and media, largely blaming the victim. Politicians are nowhere to be found, ...."

So these two Hawk signals just dropped out of the sky?

Of course not - these two Hawk signal pedestrian activated STOP lights were installed by elected officials in response to prior deaths which were well covered by the media.


Menlo Voter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Oct 30, 2020 at 7:49 pm
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Oct 30, 2020 at 7:49 pm
2 people like this

Mike:

What Peter said.


Enough
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Oct 31, 2020 at 10:00 pm
Enough, Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Oct 31, 2020 at 10:00 pm
Like this comment

Mike, How many people have been hit and killed in this area of ECR? From that I have heard and what is posted here, two. One that darted out in front of a car and caused the accident and one that just happened and is being investigated. People here, yes I mean Liz, seem to jump to the conclusions that the driver was a fault. No one knows if that is the case, we have to wait for the investigation. In the meantime crossing signals have been added by the city to help people cross safely, if they choose not to take advantage of those tools they are accepting added risk. drivers look for people in crosswalks, but they don't expect people crossing in the middle of ECR where there isn't a crosswalk, I hope they see them before it is too late but they might not.

"...reported that there was no indication of wrongdoing or negligence on the part of the driver."
That is a good indication that drugs and alcohol were not involved and the police don't suspect texting while driving.


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