Town Square

Mother and daughter dead after auto collision on Monday afternoon

Original post made on Nov 9, 2011

The accident occurred around 4:30 p.m., when a vehicle traveling westbound on Sycamore Valley Road collided with another auto moving southbound through the intersection on Brookside Drive.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, November 8, 2011, 11:35 AM


Posted by Bill
a resident of Danville
on Nov 9, 2011 at 6:33 am

It will come out that someone went through a light or pulled out from the side street right in front of the pickup truck. Very sad for all, life ended and changed forever in a blink of an eye.

Posted by Margaret Settle
a resident of Vista Grande Elementary School
on Nov 9, 2011 at 7:29 am

Hopefully steps will be taken to ward off more such tragic accidents. Three possible solutions that may be set in place to improve the conditions west bound on Sycamore: 1) Placing solar powered speed indicators on Sycamore Valley Road east of Morninghome/Greenbrook and east of Brookside Drives to slow traffic down. 2) Placing yellow flashing lights on Sycamore Valley Road warning drivers of an upcoming traffic signal. 3) Installing some traffic pavers in bands just east of the intersections to grab the attention of the drivers.

Posted by sycamore resident
a resident of Danville
on Nov 9, 2011 at 8:54 am

This intersection had had similar accidents and deaths in the past. An acquaintance was killed there in a similar accident about 7 years ago. A major problem is the setting sun. It blinds the westbound drivers and they cannot properly see the traffic light. I do not know for sure if this was the cause of this accident, but based on the time it occurred, I wouldn't be surprised if it was a contributing factor. Perhaps that intersection could be reconfigured to make Brookside less set back from Sycamore. I hope we can find some ways to prevent this in the future.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Danville
on Nov 9, 2011 at 11:19 am

This is just heartbreaking - rest in peace - brought tears to my eyes. It must have been a typical day of running errands, and them BOOM. Live life to the fullest, make it the best each and everyday.

Posted by Sadden
a resident of Danville
on Nov 10, 2011 at 6:27 am

As terrible as this is, what will more lights, signals, signs do when people just run amuck without regard to speed, traffic conditions, and me first attitudes?

Change the me first attitude, change the get out of my way manners, put more consideration of others in more people for better living conditions.

Can this happen? All the signs, signals, flashing lights dont seem to do it!

Posted by tired of it
a resident of Danville
on Nov 10, 2011 at 7:31 am

Biggest problem I see in Danville is distracted driving. Hands free means NOTHING in your hands, yet daily, I see many driving while manipulating a phone. Is that call/text really that important? Are you really that important where someone's life ahead of you is not worth your attention? Come on Danville, pay attention while you drive. Very curious to see what the cause of this collision is; driver inattention?

Posted by Frank
a resident of Danville
on Nov 10, 2011 at 7:59 am

The sun wasn't a factor as it was already below the hills at that time. 45MPH is too fast for that area going downhill towards town and the entry from Brookside is almost blind. Once the light turns green people should stop and look anyway to make sure someone is not speeding through the light going west. I'm also waiting to hear what the cause was but my money is on inattention and/or trying to beat the light. Tragic and unnecessary...very sad.

Posted by Randall
a resident of Danville
on Nov 10, 2011 at 8:11 am

The problem I have experienced pulling out from Brookside onto Sycamore is one of perception. I did not realize I was pulling into the the main flow of traffic while making the right hand turn. Yes, I saw the on coming traffic but it appeared that I had a lane to make the right turn and not be in the main flow. This was my perception. My friend, who lives in Brookside, pointed out my error as I was turning and almost got hit. I'll leave it to the traffic engineers to correct the perception problem of not realizing your pulling into traffic.

Posted by Leo
a resident of Danville
on Nov 10, 2011 at 9:00 am

The traffic in this town is out of control !! Danville Police; get to work................

Posted by john tanner
a resident of Danville
on Nov 10, 2011 at 9:35 am

I would love to see a rotating stock of unmarked police traffic enforcement vehicles, handing out tickets. Drivers have their own personal "radar" up looking for the easily identifiable police cars.
This is their mode when they speed, roll aggressively through stop signs, make ridiculous u-Turns, beat lights, etc. have their own personal "radar" up for the easily identifiable police car.

Anything wrong with red-light tickets? Anything wrong with automated speed sensors that not only flash yellow and red but give out tickets. Yes this is government intrusion, however we are using a public resource, namely the roads. If you want to go speed on your own property or pay for the opportunity, have at it, just not on our roads.

Posted by Joe
a resident of Danville
on Nov 10, 2011 at 11:03 am

Two people dead in a residential traffic accident seems suspicious. It will be interesting to see. The police report

Posted by Sycamore 500?
a resident of Danville
on Nov 10, 2011 at 11:10 am

Not sure what caused this particular accident. What might help is adjusting the right turn on red law. Perhaps 'no right turn on red' could be implemented at many of these busy intersections on Camino Tassajara/Sycamore. At least this could stop people from turning into speeding traffic. Now if we could only get the distracted drivers off their cell phones. Red light runners, please pay attention!

Posted by Derek
a resident of Danville
on Nov 10, 2011 at 11:22 am

Some of the ideas above involve substantial monetary investment, and even though we live near the Brookside/Sycamore intersection I could make the case that other nearby roads also need better speed control. So here is how we pay for it:

Activate the red light sensors through the private monitoring companies that run them. The city or county or state gets half, the monitoring company gets half (I know 50% seems like a lot but this is the way these outfits charge). Cost to the City of Danville: pretty much zero.

Post the dangerous high speed roads like Sycamore and Stone Valley in Alamo as having double-fine zones for speeding and running the red lights. Make the signs extra-large. Cost to the city: depends on how much of the fines trickle down to Danville. I'm guessing our percentage might pay for an extra officer or two, or at least largely mitigate the expense.
Also, reduce Sycamore's speed limit to 40mph max.

Three: install lights (east or west at least 500 feet) that start flashing five seconds before the crossroad lights turns yellow. We would need quite a few from both directions since there are quite a few problematic intersections. Cost to the city: Quite a lot. To pay for it, my fourth suggestion-

Increase the distracted driving fines - cell phone chewing, eyebrow tweezing, hamburger catsup spilling, lipstick applying, texting, sexting, newspaper reading, whatever - by a whopping ten-fold. Why shouldn't we? Study after study has shown cell phone use and other driving distractions to be as dangerous as drunk driving. I could make the case that at least most drunks attempt to keep their eyes forward. So let's make the crime fit the punishment. And I am not just talking Danville here. This could pay for the flashing lights, and solve budgetary problems across the country. And yes, this law would be useless if city police and highway patrol officers do not enforce it.

We may never know what the pick-up truck driver did or didn't do to cause this horrific accident. You cannot always stop an idiot who is determined to run a red light or play with a phone. But if said idiot gets a $582 citation in the mail, that person will think long and hard before doing it a second time.

In the mean time nothing will bring back this family's mother or grandmother. I cannot imagine being one of her children. And think about the fact that it could also have been a couple kids crossing the street on their bike, not even having steel around them for a fighting chance. Let's all remember that Danville is family friendly and will always have a high percent of younger kids walking and riding in scary places.
People say fatalities have happened twice here on Sycamore, but let's not forget the unfortunate bike rider who was struck & killed on Tassajara two years back. There is zero doubt in my mind that one of the two car drivers involved was distracted in this accident.

As one who often rides along Sycamore, more and more often on the sidewalk these days, I can say for certain that many Blackhawk bound maniacs are moving in the 55 to 65 mph range. I have seen a few getting tickets, but clearly far TOO few.
If you see a Danville police officer staking out a stop sign, call the Danville Police chief to demand they get on active patrol. If no action is taken, call the mayor and don't stop yelling until this waste of time & money is stopped.

Posted by Cathy
a resident of Danville
on Nov 10, 2011 at 11:38 am

Get off the darn cell phones while driving. I thought it was against the law, but apparently not in Danville.

Posted by Mike
a resident of Danville
on Nov 10, 2011 at 2:35 pm

Many drivers go far too fast on Sycamore. I drive between 45 and 50 and am often tailgated and passed in anger by SUV drivers. I always seem to catch up to them at the next red light. Perhaps, they are under too much pressure (economic? social?) and that pressure spills out into their driving habits.

Posted by Ron (Danville)
a resident of Danville
on Nov 10, 2011 at 2:42 pm

It sickens me that this happen. Anyone who drives Sycamore valley knows that the street in that area get very crazy due to the freeway on ramps for 680 and heading into downtown.

I went around the intersection going to 680 and when I came back home I could see the remains of the car and there is no question that speeding could of been an impact as the car with the residence was flipped onto its side.

I am wondering if speed bumps may be a solution as fines will not prevent speeders or people doing texting or speaking without hands free. I've seen our own officers not obeying the law by using a headset. Sad day and a day that two families will never forget.

Posted by Lisa
a resident of Danville
on Nov 10, 2011 at 2:46 pm

So tired of hearing about the "sun blocking the view". Give me a break, nice EXCUSE for the guilty party. SLOW DOWN. Danviile PD and Mayor of the week...... get on this issue and do something to change it.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Danville
on Nov 10, 2011 at 2:59 pm

Any updates on this very sad news? It truly has been heart breaking - what caused it? Someone ran the red light? I pass by this road on a regular basis, yes we need more police presence out's a shame that two lives were lost before something gets done...

Posted by Geoff Gillette
a resident of Danville
on Nov 10, 2011 at 4:19 pm

Geoff Gillette is a registered user.

Good evening,
I wanted to take a moment and just respond to some of the concerns and issues being raised in the wake of this tragedy.
First, let me thank all of you for taking the time to express your concerns for the family of the victims. It is this sort of community spirit and care that makes Danville the amazing place that it is and makes me proud to live and work here.
From going through all the comments in the thread there are a couple of running themes and I was hoping that I could address those.
1. Speed limit on Sycamore Valley Road/Camino Tassajara: There’s a perception that this is a residential road, but the reality is that it isn’t. It’s a major arterial road, connecting much of the eastern end of Town to the downtown and I-680. Having that arterial available, allows a significant number of drivers to get across Town without having to use those residential roads. Our traffic counts show that on an average weekday, Sycamore will see around 28,000 vehicles per day.
Changing the speed limit is not quite as simple as just changing the signs. State law mandates that speed limits are to be set at the prevailing speed, as determined through an established process. Setting the speed limit below the documented prevailing speed would subject all traffic tickets along that roadway to legal challenge, and thereby rendering the Town’s speed enforcement efforts to be unenforceable.

In response to concerns about speeding, the Town has been focusing efforts – including focused speed enforcement, traffic safety education, and installation of radar speed display signs - along Sycamore over the past few years. We are pleased to see that these measures have had the effect of slowing down the prevailing speed on the road from prevailing speed on the road has been from 50.3 mph in 2002 to 47.2 mph in 2007.

2. Enforcement: Many comments have been made regarding enforcement or lack thereof by the Danville Police Department. Our officers are deployed to cover the entire Town, an area of 18.1 square miles, consisting of 145 miles of roadway and 51 traffic signals.

In response to the comment that the Town writes tickets to generate a lot of revenue, it’s important to note only about 3% of the Police Department’s Operating Budget is covered by the income from traffic enforcement. It’s not something that is done with an eye towards profiting the Town, but rather throughout the entire Town with the mission of accident reduction.

Enforcement efforts include distracted driving and cell phone usage. The Danville Police Department takes a strong stance in the area of distracted driving. They also participate in other forms of enforcement efforts, such as the “Share Our Streets” program this past summer.

In addition to enforcement, the Town is also actively committed to promoting traffic safety through education programs such as Street Smarts on subjects such as speeding and distracted driving.

Town officials appreciate the time and effort that residents have taken to share their concerns. Many of you have offered suggestions regarding traffic calming devices, lane design and other issues. Let me assure you that the Town looks at all avenues in making our roads as safe as possible and will continue to do so.
Our hearts go out to the family of Mrs. Pirdavari and Mrs. Dowlati.

Thank you,
Geoff Gillette
Public Information Coordinator
Town of Danville

Posted by Bob Fish
a resident of Danville
on Nov 10, 2011 at 5:02 pm

There were many very good posts on this thread! I was there moments after the accident and can vouch that the sun was not a factor (although it becomes one during the summer months).

There is an engineering issue, as noted, with the "right lane" actually being a thru lane for traffic flowing from Blackhawk. I see people pull out of Brookside onto Sycamore Valley in front of traffic all the time. There is also a major speeding issue on Sycamore Valley and it gets worse at that light as drivers begin to think about the upcoming freeway onramp, with its high speed merge and/or beating the traffic light to get into the correct lane before the overpass. And, yes, I too am amazed at the high percentage of people who drive distracted - from putting on lipstick to texting to reading a map to having a dog in the lap. Its as if Danville was in a "bubble" where the distracted driving laws do not apply.

This is a terrible tragedy - let's hope something good comes out of it.

Posted by Derek
a resident of Danville
on Nov 10, 2011 at 6:38 pm


You say that the city does not wish to make profits off traffic tickets, only to create a safer town for driving. I do get that. But a radical - and I believe very called for - increase in distracted driving fines could bring that 3% WAY up and make things far safer than they are now. It seems like a win-win situation to me. By all means, let the police and city profit from it. Yes, it may bring about a reputation for over-zealous enforcement in Danville, but you would have a tough time finding anyone here who cares.

As to your statement that "The Danville Police Department takes a strong stance in the area of distracted driving", I would have to ask specifically what that means. I would challenge you to find ANY poster on these boards who can relate a first- or second-hand experience of they or a friend receiving a ticket for this offense. As I said, I have seen speeders being pulled over on Sycamore, so I appreciate that. But more can be done. Decreasing the speed limit by a mere 5 mph may help a little, and with so many cross streets between the Tassajara cutoff and Camino Ramon, I cannot see a legal challenge prevailing.

We cannot bring back the victims, but we must do everything possible to make high speed collisions a rare event. When I work outside between 4:30 and 5:30pm, it is a rare day when I can't hear some idiot gunning his engine like a bat out of hell on Sycamore.

Posted by Bait
a resident of Danville
on Nov 10, 2011 at 6:43 pm

park a off duty police patrol car on Sycamore like where they were left in fornt of local banks. and once in a while, real on duty police cruiser enfores speeders there. this will solve at least speeding problems on Sycamore

Posted by Slow Down
a resident of Charlotte Wood Middle School
on Nov 10, 2011 at 8:03 pm

Put the speed limit to 30 so maybe they will drive 50. Im passed all the time at 45 sometimes with the finger.

Posted by Off the Phones !
a resident of Danville
on Nov 10, 2011 at 9:27 pm

I live very near Blackhawk plaza, and I can tell you that in recent months I have noticed I sharp increase in cell phone useage in the Danville/Blackhawk area by drivers. While stopped at the intersection of Crow Canyon and Camino Tassajara, I counted no less than 5 people talking on their cell phones while driving. They aren't even bothering to try and cover it up anymore with the 'lean on the driver door' trick or the 'hold it in your lap' move. I am not saying this has any part in this accident, but the amount of close calls and erratic driving by people on cell phones has really picked up. It just causes more complications to an already out of control situation. Seriously, between speeding, being distracted, and running lights, it is getting crazy stupid to drive to the store, let alone on the freeways !! No one should die because others just don't care that their car is a weapon that weighs several thousands of pounds.

Posted by Member
a resident of Danville
on Nov 11, 2011 at 8:44 am

"Right turn on red permitted" is very misunderstood in this area, and I bet that many drivers would fail this question on a written test. It is only permitted IF there is no car coming from the left - regardless in which lane that car travels. People assume they can turn on red because that right hand side lane they turn into is meant for them. IT IS NOT. I cannot agree more with the other commentators that way too many people are still holding their phones and driving, running red lights all of the time and holding thie dogs in their lap as they drive. I know places in US where if you run through a red light, you get a hefty ticket in the mail - and you can't even fight it because a camera took a picture of your license plate and speed. We need this here and we need the police to be more proactive. My condolences to the family who lost their loved ones.

Posted by John Tanner
a resident of Danville
on Nov 11, 2011 at 9:17 am

I live in downtown danville. Many of these flat, straight streets are narrow with no protective sidewalks. I would like to see the speed limit dropped from 25 down to 20 mph. I believe this limit would be supported by the prevailing speed laws for setting speed limits.

Along Sycamore, more speed and red-light running traps. As far as stop sign traps mentioned earlier, I hope the town/police dept. considers this a lower priority. The speeds around a rolling stop are typically not sufficient to kill, time better spent on the speed zones.

Re speed traps, I have been a regular user of San Ramon Valley Blvd south of Sycamore Rd. and north of Crow Canyon. There is a regular speed trap set up there. And I know that people do speed in that area, however their excessive speed is not nearly as dangerous as that found on Sycamore. There are enough gaps between cars in this area that cars entering the roadway from the driveways and roads have an easy time of it.
Start focusing more on the more dangerous zones like El Cerro, Diablo Road, Camino Tassajara,etc.

Posted by FanDanville
a resident of Danville
on Nov 11, 2011 at 9:21 am

I'm sorry about the deaths and the personal lives involved, but I'm going to comment about the issues discussed here.

This is a case of someone doing something WRONG in their driving. Perhaps even both drivers not driving alertly and responsibly.
It's BAD DRIVING, not too high a speed limit!
This is no reason to force the speed limit to drop further and cause everyone, from here on out, to be forced into longer commute and errand times.

Hey, if the speed limit was ZERO, then almost no one would get hurt and probably no fatalities! Do you want that (the speed limit)?
The answer is NOT slower speed limits. Life has risks.
The answer is BETTER DRIVING. And suing the hell out of jerks that take others lives because they can't live up to the standard of responsible safe driving.

Someone did BAD DRIVING here.

Geoff is right about there being "a process" involved in setting the speed limit.
What is adequately not recognized about the process is that certain aspects of the process itself will constantly push the speed limit to slower and slower speeds over time. This process drives the speed limit down, unless many (most) drivers drive faster than the posted speed limit.
It's primarialy (not exclusively) about the AVERAGE SPEED of the MAJORITY of drivers on that road.
So if you lower the posted speed limit, the AVERAGE SPEED tends to go lower!
The more police presence and tickets, the AVERAGE SPEED tends to go lower.
If you see those black rubber cords lying across the road (especially the two in a row?), those are measuring and recording the speeds of drivers. A certain percentage of the fastest and slowest speeds are deleted and then the rest averaged.
Personally I hate the fact that the speed limits are going down on all our roads. And that access signals onto Sycamore are taking longer and longer, giving precedence and priority to the farther distance commuters over the people that specifically purchase closer to the freeway.
For those of you interested in keeping the speed limit from dropping further and further, SPEED UP if you see those black rubber cables!

Posted by Bea
a resident of Danville
on Nov 11, 2011 at 9:40 am

Like John Tanner I also live by downtown Danville. Leaving my home whilst high school kids are using the street as a "shortcut" means taking a risk, the speeds the kids race through are amazing and speed bumps just mean Mom and Dad will have to pay for alignment issues not that they need to slow down.

And I know this does not pertain to the trajedy but signals? is it really that difficult to turn on your signal? In a recent KGO show a caller mentioned that he does not use his signal because in order to save on the cost of replacing the bulbs? really? Maybe you should rethink the purchase of your luxury vehicle if bulb replacement is a financial burden?

All of us need to exercise defensive skills caution when crossing intersections that speeding, distracted driver on your left, the 4 abreast cyclist on your right, the power walker mom who has her child's stroller off the curb on the corner while she's on the phone and yesterday the older gentleman on NBound Railroad Ave. straddling the middle lane yup he was texting!

Posted by Derek
a resident of Danville
on Nov 11, 2011 at 1:14 pm

Sorry there Fanboy, but I could not disagree with you more. You CAN mandate law; you cannot mandate better driving unless it's through certain offenders getting repeated tickets.
As for Mr. Tanner, I agree completely. Danville PD need to prioritize their enforcements not toward the easiest tickets, but toward the drivers that put the rest of us in mortal danger.

Posted by Annie
a resident of Danville
on Nov 12, 2011 at 10:28 am

I agree with those of you who suggested police patrol - in case we don't have enough officers, how about just park a police car on one of the corners. I guarantee you cars will slow down at the sign of it. Rotate the police car around town.

I've also noticed drivers going much slower on Sycamore...

Posted by Dan
a resident of Danville
on Nov 12, 2011 at 10:41 am

I have an idea....park some police cars around like they do at the banks.....or they could put a few of the usless cops in them to. We all know Danville has a fair share of them although there are a few good ones!

Posted by Frank
a resident of Danville
on Nov 15, 2011 at 8:56 am

I saw the family at the scene yesterday lighting candles around the time of the accident last week. Their loss is unimaginable and their presence there yesterday was haunting. Very sad.

Posted by Ron Parker
a resident of Danville
on Nov 25, 2011 at 3:06 pm

I have served in law enforcement for 28 years. I am now conducting investigations as a Private Investigator (RIP Investigative Services). I was recently introduced to investigate issues pertaining to the fatal traffic collision at the intersection of Sycamore Valley Rd. and Brookside Dr. My investigation utilizing information obtained by the investigating police agency(ies) and in finding the actual cause and contributing factors in that collision. I am hopeful that my investigation will also be used to facilitate a reasonable solution towards minimzing collisions occuring at that intersection, and possibly others intersecting with Sycamore Valley Rd. I have obtained information from residence in the Sycamore Valley Rd.\Brookside Dr. area indicating the described intersections has been at issue for a significant time. I am asking that anyone having insight and history regarding incidents\problems they have experienced at that intersection contact me. I am also seeking information from anyone who may have witnessed the described fatal collision. It appears additional witnesses may have seen certain contributing factors to the described collision. Even though you may not have actually seen the two vehicles collide your information may still be valuable. Many bits of information when put together is often very beneficial in case investigations. Please contact me at (925) 437-8291 to assist in this seemingly difficult case. Thankyou....

Posted by Resident
a resident of another community
on May 30, 2013 at 5:00 pm

To all who gave such sage advice on fixing the problem that caused this tragedy, please know this. This accident was not caused by speed, cell phone, red light ignorance, sun spots, or any of the other "answers" suggested. This was a terrible accident, caused by a medical issue on the part of the heartbroken driver of the truck. John had a seizure, and was unable to control his vehicle.

Posted by Juror
a resident of another community
on Oct 15, 2014 at 7:59 pm

I was on the Grand jury that Indictrd the driver. He had been having seizures for years had no license and knew he shouldn't be driving. He smashed into someone a year earlier and fortunately only injured those people. I hope he's stays locked up a long time. How would you feel if it was your child in the street dead.

Posted by Deb
a resident of San Ramon
on Oct 16, 2014 at 8:38 am