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Dublin: No charges in on-campus crash that killed DUSD's Catherine Kuo

Authorities conclude SUV wasn't put properly in park, but doesn't rise to criminal negligence

Late DUSD trustee Catherine Kuo seen here in the board chambers on March 23, the night before her death, as she participated in the school board's first in-person meeting since the pandemic began. (Photo courtesy of DUSD)

The driver whose vehicle fatally struck Dublin Unified School District trustee Catherine Kuo during a volunteer event on campus earlier this spring will not face criminal charges, according to authorities.

A nearly seven-week investigation concluded the woman -- who has not been publicly identified -- failed to properly put her SUV into the park gear while stopped in the queue at the food distribution event at Fallon Middle School on March 24, but prosecutors determined her actions in the fatal crash did not rise to criminal negligence, according to Dublin police Capt. Nate Schmidt.

Catherine Kuo. (Photo courtesy of DUSD)

"It's just a complete tragedy, and definitely an accident. No intent that was found," Schmidt told the Weekly on Tuesday. "Just inattention, really is what it was."

Kuo, a second-year school board member and married mother of two, died at an area hospital soon after she was mortally injured while volunteering at Fallon to distribute food available to residents in need through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's "Farmers to Families Food Box Program." She was 48.

Police reported at the time that Kuo was standing behind a parked Tesla sedan with its trunk open to receive a food box around 11:45 a.m. when a BMW SUV in the designated pickup queue behind them drove forward and hit Kuo from behind, pinning the DUSD trustee between the two vehicles.

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Detectives later determined that Kuo appeared to be bending down and standing a bit behind the parked Tesla, causing her to be pushed forward by the SUV and pinned while in a falling motion, according to Schmidt.

The ensuing Dublin Police Services investigation concluded that the BMW driver was at fault, though the forward acceleration was inadvertent.

"Based upon the evidence available, the statements of the involved parties and witnesses and the circumstances surrounding the collision, the driver of the vehicle was found at fault for the collision due to 'other improper driving,'" he said. "The driver failed to exercise due care in properly securing her vehicle in 'park' while stopped in the rear paved lot of Fallon Middle School while in close proximity to pedestrians walking around and between vehicles."

The case evidence was forwarded to the Alameda County District Attorney's Office for review, as is typical in traffic fatalities, Schmidt said. Prosecutors completed their analysis late last week and determined no criminal charges would be filed against the driver.

"After a thorough review of all the facts and evidence, the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office declined to file criminal charges in this case," the DA's office told the Weekly.

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Even with the case closed, Schmidt declined to release the driver's name for privacy reasons, saying it is not considered public record because no arrest was made. That policy is common for traffic collision investigations in the Tri-Valley where criminal charges aren't filed.

Schmidt did confirm that the driver was an adult and properly licensed.

The suddenness of Kuo's death rocked the Dublin community, with the traumatic nature only compounding the loss of a revered public servant.

Kuo was a professional business analyst with nearly a decade worth of school volunteer experience when she won the Trustee Area 3 seat in a special election in November 2019. She then earned a full four-year term last fall after being unchallenged for re-election.

The DUSD Board of Trustees is scheduled to hold public interviews tonight to select Kuo's successor as Area 3 representative. The candidate list includes the late trustee's widower William Kuo and residents Taji Brown and John Wu. The appointee will serve an abbreviated term, until DUSD's next regular election in November 2022.

Jeremy Walsh
 
Jeremy Walsh, a Benicia native and American University alum, joined Embarcadero Media in November 2013. After serving as associate editor for the Pleasanton Weekly and DanvilleSanRamon.com, he was promoted to editor of the East Bay Division in February 2017. Read more >>

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Dublin: No charges in on-campus crash that killed DUSD's Catherine Kuo

Authorities conclude SUV wasn't put properly in park, but doesn't rise to criminal negligence

by / Pleasanton Weekly

Uploaded: Tue, May 18, 2021, 4:04 pm

The driver whose vehicle fatally struck Dublin Unified School District trustee Catherine Kuo during a volunteer event on campus earlier this spring will not face criminal charges, according to authorities.

A nearly seven-week investigation concluded the woman -- who has not been publicly identified -- failed to properly put her SUV into the park gear while stopped in the queue at the food distribution event at Fallon Middle School on March 24, but prosecutors determined her actions in the fatal crash did not rise to criminal negligence, according to Dublin police Capt. Nate Schmidt.

"It's just a complete tragedy, and definitely an accident. No intent that was found," Schmidt told the Weekly on Tuesday. "Just inattention, really is what it was."

Kuo, a second-year school board member and married mother of two, died at an area hospital soon after she was mortally injured while volunteering at Fallon to distribute food available to residents in need through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's "Farmers to Families Food Box Program." She was 48.

Police reported at the time that Kuo was standing behind a parked Tesla sedan with its trunk open to receive a food box around 11:45 a.m. when a BMW SUV in the designated pickup queue behind them drove forward and hit Kuo from behind, pinning the DUSD trustee between the two vehicles.

Detectives later determined that Kuo appeared to be bending down and standing a bit behind the parked Tesla, causing her to be pushed forward by the SUV and pinned while in a falling motion, according to Schmidt.

The ensuing Dublin Police Services investigation concluded that the BMW driver was at fault, though the forward acceleration was inadvertent.

"Based upon the evidence available, the statements of the involved parties and witnesses and the circumstances surrounding the collision, the driver of the vehicle was found at fault for the collision due to 'other improper driving,'" he said. "The driver failed to exercise due care in properly securing her vehicle in 'park' while stopped in the rear paved lot of Fallon Middle School while in close proximity to pedestrians walking around and between vehicles."

The case evidence was forwarded to the Alameda County District Attorney's Office for review, as is typical in traffic fatalities, Schmidt said. Prosecutors completed their analysis late last week and determined no criminal charges would be filed against the driver.

"After a thorough review of all the facts and evidence, the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office declined to file criminal charges in this case," the DA's office told the Weekly.

Even with the case closed, Schmidt declined to release the driver's name for privacy reasons, saying it is not considered public record because no arrest was made. That policy is common for traffic collision investigations in the Tri-Valley where criminal charges aren't filed.

Schmidt did confirm that the driver was an adult and properly licensed.

The suddenness of Kuo's death rocked the Dublin community, with the traumatic nature only compounding the loss of a revered public servant.

Kuo was a professional business analyst with nearly a decade worth of school volunteer experience when she won the Trustee Area 3 seat in a special election in November 2019. She then earned a full four-year term last fall after being unchallenged for re-election.

The DUSD Board of Trustees is scheduled to hold public interviews tonight to select Kuo's successor as Area 3 representative. The candidate list includes the late trustee's widower William Kuo and residents Taji Brown and John Wu. The appointee will serve an abbreviated term, until DUSD's next regular election in November 2022.

Comments

Jennifer
Registered user
Danville
on May 18, 2021 at 6:51 pm
Jennifer, Danville
Registered user
on May 18, 2021 at 6:51 pm

This was a tragic accident. So sad for the Kuo family and the lady driving the vehicle. Prayers.


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