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Danville: Man won't face charges in hit-and-runs that injured cyclists

Original post made on Jan 19, 2018

The Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office will not file charges against a San Ramon senior arrested in October after police allege he caused two hit-and-run collisions with cyclists in Danville.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, January 18, 2018, 4:39 PM

Comments (18)

Posted by Lance
a resident of Danville
on Jan 19, 2018 at 7:40 am

Assume the individual involved stepped up to honestly admit his actions, hold himself accountable, and personally apologize to the victims.

Posted by Long term resident
a resident of Danville
on Jan 19, 2018 at 7:57 am

This is another crazy example of California legal judgement that treats the criminals as victims. I do have sympathy for the 83 year old man involved in the accident. However, sympathy doesn't make the injuries any less painful that he caused, nor the disruption to other's lives. However, at a minimum, he should have his license suspended and be required to pass all DMV tests (written and driving) to get it back.

Are we headed entirely toward a Sanctuary State for all crimes?

Posted by David
a resident of Danville
on Jan 19, 2018 at 8:01 am

Lance, if he admitted he intentionally tried to kill or seriously injure pedestrians he’d be in jail.
This is shameful. Hopefully the victims hire a good attorney.

Posted by Louisa
a resident of Danville
on Jan 19, 2018 at 8:26 am

“I did in fact decline to file charges because the evidence is insufficient to prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt," said deputy district attorney Sophea Nop in an email Thursday.(!!!!). What an outrage!! I wonder if Nop would have also come to the same conclusion if any of the cyclists had been killed?

“Insufficient evidence” possibly because the driver doesn’t RECALL anything about the two incidents?? Yet, he hit the cyclists AND left the scene of BOTH accidents. His license should be revoked as he is a danger to others on the road. He SHOULD NOT be allowed to drive!!!

Posted by mrszalewski2
a resident of Danville
on Jan 19, 2018 at 8:37 am

mrszalewski2 is a registered user.

It will be difficult for the victims to get a good personal injury settlement or a good payout from the driver’s insurance company without charges being filed against the driver. Unfortunately, I know this from personal experience. My attorney told me if the driver is likeable and does not argue or otherwise be obnoxious with the authorities, it is unlikely they will file charges against him. The fact that charges are not filed makes it more difficult to get a fair payout for a personal injury settlement. The driver’s insurance company and or attorney uses this as a form of defense for their client, suggesting that if charges were not filed, malice was not present and the act was not as bad as it appears.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Danville
on Jan 19, 2018 at 8:44 am

Nothing in this article implies that the DMV didn't revoke his license. It simply says the police declined to file criminal charges. However I am sure they recommended a safety check through the DMV who takes evaluating senior drivers seriously. (My elderly mother had her license revoked by the DMV after a safety check was recommended by a policeman who stopped her driving 8 miles an hour in a 40 mph zone.)

Posted by LaurieB
a resident of Alamo
on Jan 19, 2018 at 9:18 am

I am the woman that he hit first on Diablo Road. I'm physically OK now and my insurance will cover my medical bills. But I cried when I read this. I guess I'm very much not over it. I was just a few inches away from being seriously injured or killed. My heart breaks for the two men who were seriously injured. I pray that this decision does not impact their case negatively.
The drivers insurance company has been in touch with me numerous times, so maybe he did admit guilt. I have received no offers of settlement. I will certainly keep this post updated.

Posted by sl
a resident of Alamo
on Jan 19, 2018 at 11:13 am

We don't know all the facts. Does anyone know if the 83 year old man was driving? I hardly think they would not press charges unless there was serious doubt as to the drivers identity and the car. There would be a paint transfer match to the car and maybe there isnt in this case. Unfortunately the policy are not issuing details on why they are not charging. It would certainly be nice if they would release the evidence they do have.

Posted by Courtney
a resident of Blackhawk
on Jan 19, 2018 at 11:48 am

I find this outcome shocking and I want to know so much more. LaurieB, I feel for you and for the other two victims. Ms. Alvero, what can you do as a journalist to help get the community more details on this situation? Obviously there must be more to this story. How can they not file charges? It makes no sense! Is the 83 year old man denying that he was driving? Denying that the car in question was the one involved in the accidents? What other explanation is there? Is this a Cousin Vinny situation -- someone else with a very similar car just happened to be driving in the exact same place? Did a juvenile steal Mr. Brennan's car out of his relative's the driveway, go on a joy ride causing these accidents, return the vehicle, and then flee on foot all while Mr. Brennan was enjoying ice tea in his relative's backyard? I am tempted to say that the decision not to press charges is outrageous and should be condemned by our community loudly, but we don't know all the facts. That's what we need and I believe we have a right to know more facts than have been shared so far. Three of our neighbors have been injured and we know which car did the injuring. I think it unlikely that the elderly Mr. Brennan intended any malice, if he indeed was the one driving, but does that absolve him from responsibility? I urge anyone reading to join me in demanding more information from the police and especially from the D.A. And while we are at it, how about getting some details about the accident that injured two cyclists last summer one evening near the intersection of Magee Ranch Drive and Blackhawk Drive where a suspect was arrested at the scene. We've never heard what happened in that case either.

Posted by Long term resident
a resident of Danville
on Jan 19, 2018 at 12:00 pm

Is it just me, or does the quote "Nop said she could not remember exactly when the decision not to file charges was made but estimated it occurred during the past couple weeks." make your blood boil??!! I guess it wasn't viewed as a very important decision to not file charges if the DA can't even recall when they made the decision.

I am very sympathetic to Laurie B and others. I was involved in a serious bicycle accident years ago and have a metal plate in my shoulder to show for it. The physical pain is bad enough, but it also took me more than a year to get back on a bike even though I love the sport and rode 3 or 4 times per week prior to the accident. My point is there is more than just physical pain when someone runs you down with a vehicle.

Posted by LaurieB
a resident of Alamo
on Jan 19, 2018 at 12:16 pm

Here's what I know.
The Danville Police did a fantastic job, DNA swabs, reviewing security camera, combing neighborhoods. They found the car and him at a relatives house near Blackhawk.
His license was taken right then.
It is very possible that he had a stroke.
There was never any doubt that he was driving.
I haven't been kept up to speed on anything since November.
If I had to venture a guess it would be that the DA decided that his health and age did not warrant the cost of initiating legal procedures. Too bad for the victims I guess. And I am certain that the Danville Police Department is not happy about this either.

Posted by Ms. Bunny
a resident of San Ramon
on Jan 19, 2018 at 1:43 pm

Spencer Freeman Smith killed a man riding a bike in Dublin a few years back. That was also a hit and run. Perhaps if he had stopped and called for help, the man's life could have been saved. We won't ever know. Smith is a lawyer.

Smith played the court like a fiddle, got away with so mucn and in the end was sentenced to one year in jail. For murder!!!! However, it was thought at the time that he would spend a month in jail and the rest of the sentence at home. For murder!!!

That was a different court system, but same poor judgement

Posted by Scott
a resident of Danville
on Jan 19, 2018 at 1:52 pm

This is an absolute travesty. If the gentlemen was well enough to be driving a vehicle, he should certainly have been well enough to KNOW that he had hit people and to stop the vehicle. This D.A. is doing a complete dis-service to the entire community by failing to prosecute the matter. What a joke.

Posted by John
a resident of Danville
on Jan 19, 2018 at 2:00 pm

I'm with Scott.

Posted by So sorry
a resident of San Ramon
on Jan 19, 2018 at 4:57 pm

So sorry is a registered user.

LaurieB I am so sorry for you. I know you have been through a terrible time and I will keep you in my prayers, as well as the other victims. I think the decision not to prosecute is not right, but I am relieved to hear that his license was taken away. The fact that he is old is not the point; he injured and could have killed multiple people and then drove away. That is wrong and even if he is considered too ill or old to be sent to prison, pressing charges will help the victims with their insurance claims. Protests over this should be made. God bless you LaurieB.

Posted by Read Between Lines
a resident of Danville
on Jan 22, 2018 at 8:36 am

I have no personal knowledge of the facts of this case, but reading between the lines of what the D.A. said, I think it is very possible that the elderly driver had a stroke which caused him to lose control of his facilities while driving. If there was no prior evidence that he would have known of the likelihood of a stroke while driving, and he had a stroke for the first time while driving, he lacks the required elements for any criminal prosecution against him. Moreover, from a civil standpoint, he also would lack the necessary elements for negligence, if he had no prior strokes and no reasons to know that he may have a stroke and it was not safe for him to drive.

If after this event, he sees a Neurologist who prescribes him medication that helps prevent future strokes, and he passes a clinical examination, unfortunately it is very likely that he could once again regain a lawful drivers license.

Again, I am just speculating, not knowing the actual facts of this case.

Posted by Nebuchadnezzar
a resident of San Ramon
on Jan 22, 2018 at 10:24 am

Nebuchadnezzar is a registered user.

Spencer Smith - THAT was a travesty of justice! We will all be called to give account someday. Hopefully soon.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Danville
on Feb 1, 2018 at 6:30 pm

I do feel for all parties involved.
However had the person been in his earlier years say 20-50 years of age he/she for sure would have been brought up on charges.

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