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Letter: Safety measures needed on Portola Road

Original post made on Jul 1, 2008

The perfect storm occurred in front of our house at 11:26 p.m. June 12, when a car driven by Keith Benford Knudsen, 19, of Portola Valley crashed and killed his passenger, Robert Lewis Wetzel, 19, of Redwood City.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, July 2, 2008, 12:00 AM

Comments (5)

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Posted by Lucky
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Jul 1, 2008 at 4:46 pm

The letter writers are understandably feeling great sorrow over this tragedy, as many in the community are. But I'm not sure what proactive safety measures could be put in place on Portola Road that would change the outcome of a scenario involving drunk and reckless kids getting behind the wheel of a deadly weapon.

Their fate might have been different had luck been smiling on them -- there are few among us who can't remember at least one incident in our youth where only luck saved us from our stupidity. But stop signs and guard rails wouldn't have made a difference to an alcohol-fueled 19-year-old with the kind of judgment that would compel him to drive 80 mph on an unlit, winding road while drunk.

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Posted by Joanna
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jul 2, 2008 at 6:11 pm


Well written. I agree 100%

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Posted by Beth
a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge
on Jul 3, 2008 at 1:14 am

i recently just moved to Portola Valley, although i've been in the neighborhood my whole life. Since kindergarten, i attended ormandale elementary and then moved on to corte madera middle school. I know the driver well, and he knew those roads better than anyone. Portola valley roads are isolated, ridged, and absolutely predictable. Although i do know this, these roads.. even though i drive them every day, make me uncomfortable. Every day i drive by the site wondering how he could have crashed right there.. of all the streets.. the straight one. A lot happened that night and i believe there is a huge factor the authorities are missing. If you wanna make Portola Valley roads safer, you have to eliminate the terrible drivers and enforce more lights along the road. There are lots of stubborn deer... fearless skunks and sometimes foggy nights.. which i may add makes its almost impossible to see.. i live right off Cervantes and i couldn't find my way home because of the headlights reflecting off the fog and no way to see further up the street. think about it people. Just because one kid was drunk and crashed doesn't mean all the other crashes on that road were similar.. focus on the more universal problems with these roads.

It saddens me to think that people are trying to use this sensitive and tragic incident as an example to try to enforce more protection over these streets.. there are worse areas to focus on.

Portola Valley already focuses on issues that don't even compare to other cities.

My friends from redwood city, also whom knew the people in the accident, drove to Portola Valley to visit me as i sulked around the house... drove down cervantes and headed to ormandale, with my sister and me walking next to the car directing them to take my dog to the park. Five minutes later we are harassed by two cop cars, three policemen, because someone called 911 because they felt "uncomfortable" or "terrified" about the car going through the area. Not everyone is rich, and there just happened to be a young black teenager just about 18 in the front seat, who will never go to Portola Valley again because he felt it was a race issue considering that exact car has come down many times before in which the cops were never called.

This is what really saddens me. Pv should focus more on how the community looks as a whole, i'm embarrassed to say i'm from Portola Valley, this is not how the town should be.

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Posted by Saddened
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Jul 5, 2008 at 11:06 am

There are many issues that the Town of Portla Valley does not address: mainly holding those who break the law responsible for their actions. Driving under the influence is against the law. Why do our police officers ignore the houswives who drink every day at their lunches when they DRIVE to pick up their children at our 2 local schools? Why do the parents who allow alcohol to be consumed by minors in their own homes not be held reposnsible when the same kids leave drunk in th emiddle of the night and break in to local businesses? Or vandlaize our schools? Do they relaize that serving or even allowing alcohol to be consumed while they are present in their own homes is against the LAW?
Portola Valley is a very small town with NO bus service which could allow our chidlren to be able to leave and go to the movies, bowling, shopping at Stanford or Hillsdale, go to a after school or summer job, volunteer, etc. We need to get Sam Trans back! Bored kids, not involved in an after school activity are going to look for trouble. This is NOT NEW to any town or why not look at ways tosolve these problems. Instead of allowing parents to pull out their checkbooks to SAVE their children from each mess they have created, why can't the punishment fit the crime? if alcohol is involved, the kids then need to have to communitys ervice at a rehab...and attend AA meetings. If it is breaking and entering, then they should have to go work at the jails sweeping foors and seeing how other criminals live....and for the parents who constantly drink and drive and who cannot set a good example to your children, then maybe the police need to be watching them a bit more vs. an African American male who happens to have friends in PV....
It saddens me to no end that another life has been taken because this young man CHOSE alcohol before his friendship and his respect to himself and to his friend..Railings, lights, etc. are not going to help anyoen who chooses this lifestyle. But, I am sure this is not his first time drinking and driving and doing something so careless; our small town should have helped him before this accident...
Safe Teens is a great program...but why is this not mentioned in any PV town newlstters; all we hear about is the Town Center and how chickens are being raised here!
Saddened by it all....

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Posted by Beth
a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge
on Jul 6, 2008 at 1:10 am

I absolutely agree.. my sister just got her license back after having a dui .. every time i go home not only is it a mission to find a ride and then get there but also usually all the times my parents are willing to pick me up they have consumed some amount of alcohol.. and parents these days.. with the things we teenagers do.. don't sit around drinking cheap wine and apple cider... i never thought i'd see the day where my parents drank more than their kids do. With lunch, dinner, heck, sometimes breakfast.. a nice cool gin n tonic or black Russian is poured down their dried up throats because society is crashing fast and almost every parent assumes that their child is in the middle of the chaos.

I agree that we need more reliable transportation in Portola Valley.
With a reliable ride to the area less teens would be driving drunk at night, trying to get home by curfew, unable to tell their parents" HEY I'M DRUNK"

Of all places know this... if you were raised in PV, it is almost at an instant, that you are to be a "good, well respected" child. You're from PV, com'on .. rich parents.. cute neighborhood.. pleasant ville right in front of your face. Maybe some of you don't see it, but look around... theirs a whole different kind of people roaming the almost empty streets of PV.

I say take it to the public eye.

Anyone wish to start a petition to help keep our roads safe and accommodate those who make poor decisions so they don't hurt others?

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