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No charge in crash that hurt twin boys on Menlo Park sidewalk

Original post made on Jan 24, 2014

Edward Nelson, the 90-year-old driver whose SUV jumped a curb and pinned 6-year-old twin boys against a wall in downtown Menlo Park will not be charged with an infraction for driving on the sidewalk.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, January 24, 2014, 9:16 AM

Comments (59)

Posted by volunteer, a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 24, 2014 at 9:45 am

I volunteer to be on the jury for his civil trial.


Posted by Berry, a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 24, 2014 at 9:45 am

So it's all good if I smash the gas pedal instead of the break pedal and wipe out a bunch of women and children and start up engineers walking on the sidewalk of downtown Palo Alto as long as i don't kill anyone and say it was an accident? Good times!


Posted by Joe Baldwin, a resident of University South
on Jan 24, 2014 at 10:37 am

In this tragic case it is indeed true that
"The Law is an ass!"


Posted by Trelis, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jan 24, 2014 at 11:01 am

"There was nothing obvious to indicate that he was incapable of safely operating a motor vehicle that day," Gallagher told the Almanac."

But in fact, two children were hurt due to his inability to safely operate a motor vehicle that day. Not knowing the gas pedal from the brake is a huge factor in determining his state of mind and his ability to operate a vehicle at his age. The law is unbelievable!!!


Posted by what!!!, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 24, 2014 at 11:09 am

This totally BS and goes against all common sense. He knew his limitations and still drove. Remember he was blaming the victims that were hurt on the sidewalk. So if one day someone happens to, and without any intention to cause harm, accidentally hit him...


Posted by Our Culture of Blame-Passing, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jan 24, 2014 at 11:36 am

Errors and miscalculations happen, and yes it can even result in a death. That's life.

But blaming the children went beyond the pale. It makes a person lose compassion for the man that caused the accident, annoyed that he has seemingly gotten off free, while these children suffer.

Yet clearly, there was no malice. If it could have been different, it would be. The driver did not intentionally injure anyone. But responsibility needs to be taken for it.

The driver's passing the buck reaction is similar to what prevails in all areas of our society now, where almost as a rule, those responsible for errors refuse to take responsibility for their own actions.

It is the same in city government, federal government; moral integrity is first taught in families, and it is in short supply in our culture, most egregiously exemplified, in this tragic case.


Posted by paceegee, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 24, 2014 at 11:38 am

paceegee is a registered user.

"There was nothing obvious to indicate that he was incapable of safely operating a motor vehicle that day" - what sort of bullshit is this?! You mean, apart from hitting the gas instead of the brake pedal, driving his vehicle on the sidewalk and injuring children?! I guess that's not obvious enough evidence of his incapacity to drive...

Gas pedal, break pedal, people mix them all the time and pin children against a wall on the sidewalk, so why give a shit, let's give the guy a break!!! He wasn't "incapable of safely operating" - on the contrary, he was perfectly capable of mowing down pedestrians under such challenging conditions as driving on the sidewalk! D.A. Gallagher should give this guy a medal!


Posted by Hermia, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 24, 2014 at 11:40 am

If a thirty year old made the same mistake we'd be willing to believe it was just a mistake.

Blaming the kids is just wrong, though.


Posted by OldMan, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 24, 2014 at 11:43 am

Remember, the 90 yr old driver is a retired layer, Hmmm


Posted by Mr.Recycle, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 24, 2014 at 12:19 pm

So driving on the sidewalk is cool now? That's good, I need a faster route up University.


Posted by anonymous, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 24, 2014 at 1:39 pm

These kinds of legal situations make me skeptical about equal treatment under the law. Keep your eyes open for similar situations reported in the news and see if charges are made or what the consquences are.

It reminds me of Justin Bieber's increasing law-breaking - I noticed news reports today state police in Florida illegally used their time to escort him in from the airport, he has been charged with a DUI and speeding - fine - but what about the fact he is UNDERAGE to drink alcohol in the first place (no mention of that) - likely just a handslap coming, as in the past.
Some people are so entitled.
So - idiot underage celebrities and well-connected wealthy types such as Stanford lawyers have a different type of "justice" from the rest of us.
Equality under the law is VITAL for our country. I can think of no more important thing in our lives.
I hope the victims get a zillion dollars in their civil proceedings out of this awful person responsible for this action.


Posted by Justin Bieber, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 24, 2014 at 1:47 pm

Hey man don't loop me in with an [portion removed] that runs over kids on sidewalk and then blames the kids for the accident. Don't confuse the perks of celebrity with inept handling by the D.A.


Posted by pearl, a resident of another community
on Jan 24, 2014 at 2:47 pm

This is a COMPLETE OUTRAGE!!! The laws need to be changed so when someone plows into someone walking on the sidewalk, there will be repercussions!!! I cannot believe that Mr. Nelson is getting off scott free!!! And, that Mr. Nelson "denied his responsibility for the resulting injuries, claiming the children were engaged in behavior that was reckless, careless and negligent." SHAME, SHAME, SHAME ON YOU, MR. NELSON, FOR YOUR COWARDICE, AND FOR NOT HAVING THE COURAGE TO ADMIT YOUR WRONGDOING, AND FOR NOT STEPPING FORWARD AND TAKING RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR HEINOUS ACTIONS, AND FOR TRYING TO GET OUT OF THIS HORRIBLE THING THAT YOU DID WHEN YOU PLOWED INTO AND INJURED THESE TWO YOUNG CHILDREN!!! The headline should read, "RICH GUY FORMER ATTORNEY LIVING IN WOODSIDE GETS OFF SCOTT FREE FOR RUNNING DOWN TWO CHILDREN!!!" Our criminal justice system is such a farce, such a mockery!!! Everyone - please write to your legislators, send them a copy of this news article, and demand a change in the law so that cowards like Mr. Nelson will have to pay for running down people while driving their car. I hope the family of these two young children sues the shorts off Mr. Nelson.


Posted by Time for a change in the law., a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 24, 2014 at 3:50 pm

Wow, This is an instance where existing law is really bad. Time for change. This man intentionally got behind the wheel of a car which he evidently could not properly operate. He didn't notice the proper position of the brake and gas pedals in his own car?

By extension of this specious argument, if I "mistakenly" run a stop sign that I accidentally fail to notice, can I argue that I did it unintentionally and get released from a ticket? What if I hit a person when I make that mistake?

I'm sorry. A child who was walking on a SIDEWALK (so named because it is designed for pedestrians, not for cars)was badly injured. It is the driver's fault.

When we drive cars we are operating potentially dangerous heavy machines in shared public space and we should take full responsibility for mistakes we make that cause harm to others. If this were Europe, he'd be in jail.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 24, 2014 at 4:07 pm

The fact that there is no way the driver can be charged for doing this shows that the law is wrong.

The fact that a driver inadvertently drives where he shouldn't is wrong regardless of whether he kills someone, seriously injures someone, or drives through a shop window doing property damage.

If a driver drives off the street into a sidewalk regardless of the consequences there should be all sorts of charges, from driving a vehicle in space reserved for pedestrians, to incompetency behind the wheel, to injury with a deadly weapon (in this case). This guy cannot be allowed to get away with no charge. If the law doesn't allow for this then the law is wrong.

Thank you for the update on the boys conditions and I only hope that they recover fully physically as well as emotionally.


Posted by parent, a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 24, 2014 at 4:20 pm

My understanding is that negligent driving is a crime under existing law, however negligent driving happens so often that the DA chooses not to prosecute unless there are additional crimes occurring at the same time (such as DUI). Unfortunately, running down two innocent children is not sufficient for the DA to prosecute.


Posted by no worries, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 24, 2014 at 4:49 pm

He'll get what he deserves in civil court.


Posted by Enjoy what you created, a resident of another community
on Jan 24, 2014 at 5:25 pm

Don't you people get it? He is a DRIVER in PALO ALTO. Drivers always come first. Poor guy. Get out of his way next time.


Posted by I wonder..., a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 24, 2014 at 8:58 pm

Most posters here seem to assume that it's the law that's the problem. It could be that the interpretation of the law by the powers that be are the problem. Let's see. A 90 year old man drives his car onto the sidewalk and gravely injures one 6 year old and less gravely injures his brother. The San Mateo County DA's office can find no reason to charge this man with anything, not even an infraction. Evidently this gentleman would have had to "volitionally" decide to injure these children for any action at all to be taken.

What's wrong with this picture? Is it possible that if Mr. Nelson were charged with an "infraction" the family's case against him would be stronger? Is it possible that Mr. Nelson is part of the old-boy network in San Mateo County, or in the state of California? Is it possible that another 90 year old, not similarly connected, might have been charged with an infraction?

It's not the law that's the problem here, it's the way it's administered by the San Mateo County officials.


Posted by Tom, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 24, 2014 at 8:59 pm

Sean Gallagher argument is not true. Don't believe them. The driver can be charged with various crimes such as negligent driving. Google Sean Gallagher and you will find he has a history of protecting negligent drivers who kill or injure pedestrians and vulnerable road users. I suggest writing to DA Steve Wagstaffe who hired him, and let me know you don't want a deputy DA who is so soft on crime and avoids prosecuting wealthy potential campaign contributors. If Steve Wagstaffe will not replace him with someone who represents all Palo Alto residence, not just the wealthy, then we need to vote out Steve Wagstaffe. That is the only way to send the message that we want equality in prosecution.


Posted by me, a resident of another community
on Jan 24, 2014 at 10:07 pm

I am sure if he had mowed down a couple of cops on the sidewalk instead of 6 year old kids THAT would have been a crime!

Here in my neighborhood a Sheriff rolled over a cyclist in a bike lane on a straight road during the middle of the day while NOT on a call, and killed him. There has been an investigation by THE SHERIFF DEPARTMENT ongoing for over a MONTH and they still can not figure out if the sheriff is at fault!
After my next crime I want to do my own investigation too!

Justice is blind, (deaf, and dumb!)


Posted by Tom, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 24, 2014 at 11:06 pm

By the DA's logic, you can basically maim anyone you want using a vehicle and not even get a slap on the wrist. You could run over people in a crosswalk and just say you hit the wrong pedal. You could run stop signs and stop lights, t-boning whoever you want, and just say ooops wrong pedal. You could plow your car through the front a coffee shop, and just say you got confused which pedal to press. What he is saying is total nonsense.

Its the job of the DA to protect the innocent citizens of the county and keeps the streets safe. The message they are sending is only endangering everyone by encouraging drivers to be negligent and reckless. This is NOT the message that the DA's office should be sending out.


Posted by Its OK, We'll handle it, a resident of Community Center
on Jan 25, 2014 at 6:57 am

This may be why cyclists have started taking things into their own hands. Immediate justice is beginning to be doled out on the spot. No Police or DA needed which saves everyone time and money. Drive carefully ;)


Posted by I Wonder..., a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 25, 2014 at 8:02 am

Why is it that nothing is coming out about Mr. Nelson and his background? Is he being protected because he's well-connected in the legal or political world? Is he a big donor to political causes? Is there some reason why the Weekly isn't digging up more information? Is Mr. Nelson making it clear that he knows how to intimidate others with lawsuits or other forms of legal action, just as he has tried to suggest that two six year olds were bringing the accident upon themselves?

Come on, Palo Alto Weekly and Palo Alto Online. Do your job!


Posted by Inquisitive, a resident of Mountain View
on Jan 25, 2014 at 9:22 am

Can I start running stop signs and red lights, 'because I didn't mean it'?
How do we get a new DA?


Posted by Mark, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jan 25, 2014 at 12:25 pm

Web Link

Hopefully, the driver has taken accountability in some form, that has not been reported-medical bills, psycho-therapy bills, loss of income, educational remediation, physical therapy, household modifications,Ö.There is no way you a driver can mishandle his/her car as this man did and inflict such great bodily harm, to children, and not be held legally accountable in some form. There is just no way!


Posted by sadlegalsystem, a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 25, 2014 at 2:58 pm

It seems very strange that you can jump the sidewalk and seriously injure pedestrians and there's no infraction. On top of that, you get to sue the pedestrians and accuse them of enticing you to jump the curb. Unbelievable!

I must be very dense because I can't figure out how pedestrians can entice me to drive my car up on the sidewalk, no matter what they are doing, including egging me on to do so. And if they were to be successful in getting me to jump the curb (which I thought was breaking the law), wouldn't that indicate I knew what I was doing?


Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 25, 2014 at 3:06 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by anonymous, a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 25, 2014 at 3:17 pm

The only reason to make such a claim in a lawsuit is to come out swinging against someone who has a good case against you in order to hurt them so they settle short of going to court, in other words, injure the kids' families again in court to save money. Usually insurance companies are behind this strategy, but it's actually illegal to mention this in court.

This is the equivalent of a SLAPP suit. I wonder if the family could use that law in order to get damages against this guy for trying to use the courts to essentially injure them again? The malice in how he handled the case now makes me wonder how he can claim that there was obviously no malice in driving up on the sidewalk and running over little kids...


Posted by yagoo, a resident of Southgate
on Jan 25, 2014 at 4:41 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by ndtown, a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 25, 2014 at 5:11 pm

Confusing the pedals gas and brake is a sign of loss of physical sensitivity in the periferic nerves of the foot. You don't know that until something happens that highlights a problem. It's by no means a sign of negligence if the driver didn't know. It's exactly the same as a driver who never had any signs of a medical condition passing out at the wheel and has an accident.
As far as a response to the lawsuit by the children I am sure that his insurance company is doing that on behalf of his defense because of the way California law is written. Blaming him for that aspect is just not right. Now, if after this accident he continues to drive that's another story. The children fortunately will recover and yes probably will remember for ever.But they are alive and hopefully will understand that life is fragile, can change suddenly and accidents are bound to happen. It's a pity they learned that so young and dramatically-there is no undoing what happened. However, the amount of hatred, ignorance and simple refusal to understand circumstances that I see spewed in this forum is also a forever lesson that I don't think they need to absorb.Let the parties work for a setlement and pray that one day you, the perfect you, don't end up unknowingly with a loss of sensitivity in your periferic nervesIt's bound to happen when you grow older, or as a result of some medical conditions that you may be unware of.


Posted by ndtown, a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 25, 2014 at 5:11 pm

Confusing the pedals gas and brake is a sign of loss of physical sensitivity in the periferic nerves of the foot. You don't know that until something happens that highlights a problem. It's by no means a sign of negligence if the driver didn't know. It's exactly the same as a driver who never had any signs of a medical condition passing out at the wheel and has an accident.
As far as a response to the lawsuit by the children I am sure that his insurance company is doing that on behalf of his defense because of the way California law is written. Blaming him for that aspect is just not right. Now, if after this accident he continues to drive that's another story. The children fortunately will recover and yes probably will remember for ever.But they are alive and hopefully will understand that life is fragile, can change suddenly and accidents are bound to happen. It's a pity they learned that so young and dramatically-there is no undoing what happened. However, the amount of hatred, ignorance and simple refusal to understand circumstances that I see spewed in this forum is also a forever lesson that I don't think they need to absorb.Let the parties work for a setlement and pray that one day you, the perfect you, don't end up unknowingly with a loss of sensitivity in your periferic nervesIt's bound to happen when you grow older, or as a result of some medical conditions that you may be unware of.


Posted by sadlegalsystem, a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 25, 2014 at 7:02 pm

ndtown -- I don't know if you are right that this can be something that happens all of the sudden and you have no way of knowing this, but as we age, more problems can emerge that impair our driving abilities. Let's assume you are correct.

However, it seems very wrong to counter sue the boys and the family that has been so harmed by this accident. You brush it off as that's just the way insurance companies handle such cases. Sorry, but that's a sad legal system that allows the drive to accuse young boys that they are at fault for enticing the car to come up onto the sidewalk and strike them. Such a lawsuit should not be tolerated.

And, to hold that opinion is not spewing hate. Pedestrians should not have to worry that they can be maimed and, then, even sued by the car driver who drives up the sidewalk.


Posted by Robert, a resident of another community
on Jan 26, 2014 at 12:41 pm

Again, sad, but shouldn't be all that surprising. This comes out of the same line of thinking that pedestrians should be mandated to wear reflectors so that elderly drivers with poor eyesight can see them.


Posted by Absurd, a resident of another community
on Jan 26, 2014 at 1:34 pm

Not even a ticket for recklessness? Then why were there criminal charges for the father who fell alsleep at the wheel coming home from Black Friday shopping? There was no intent to harm there either. This a travesty of justice. I wish the family of the boys all the success in the world with their civil suit.


Posted by Dennis Anderson, a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Jan 26, 2014 at 6:48 pm

1 -- Did the insurance company sue the children without the driver/ex-lawyer's approval? Couldn't a client with integrity tell the insurance company attorneys "No. I will not approve or sign that suit."?

2 -- I will turn 77 in four weeks. I have neuropathy and have been weighing the value in personal freedom vs. the potential danger of renewing my license. I completed a 100-mile drive yesterday, partly on I-5 and partly in downtown Portland traffic without incident. But this report and some of the comments have made me decide. I will NOT renew my driver's license.

P.S., I lived in Menlo Park or Palo Alto for 35 years, but I am retired in live in Oregon now. I was a newspaper reporter/editor in Redwood City for 24 years. I think some of the commenters here do not realize that the county officials they are criticizing are ALL in San Mateo County. None are in Palo Alto. The driver also is a San Mateo County resident and the accident occurred there.


Posted by Mom with aging parents, a resident of South of Midtown
on Jan 27, 2014 at 7:51 am

It would certainly be interesting to know more about him. No prior suspensions or reckless driving charges but any "accidents". Does he have a wife and children who had cautioned him about driving before? Or are they also culpable if they thought he was unsafe and didn't have the guts to confront him about it.

Noted his house went on the market the day after the accident. Are all his assets being transferred to avoid the damages for civil suit?Definitely not a legacy of an honest, conscientious and upright citizenship that most 90 year olds would want to be remembered in their obituary.


Posted by voltairesmistress, a resident of another community
on Jan 27, 2014 at 9:51 am

Time for the community to vote out district attorney Gallagher. He it's not doing what he can to protect all of us from dangerous drivers. It is his interpretation of the law that is at fault here (as others here have noted more eloquently than I can). The 90 year old was incapable of safely driving but refused to stop driving. His stubborn assertion of driving privilege has now caused him to maim a child. This is not malice, but criminal negligence. And negligence can and should be prosecuted, just as any type of impaired driving can and should be.


Posted by Robert, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 27, 2014 at 10:56 am

This is Menlo Park, not Palo Alto.

I am pleased to see that his license is still suspended. WITH OUR CURRENT LAWS this is above average punishment! Then financial penalties go to civil court, where blaming the other party is what lawyers do.

We should change the law so that when motorists cause injury to pedestrians or cyclists, there is an assumption of guilt on the motorists, and a near automatic license suspension, for starters. As it is, motorists can just say "I did not see them," and that is it!!

The "I did not see them" approach works for regular accidents, and especially well for fatalities.

We need to change the law.


Posted by ndtown, a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 27, 2014 at 10:59 am

I think that in another forum about the same accident it has already been explained that in order to respond to the suit ( a civil, not criminal matter) you have to allege contributory negligence and go from there. The boys' family are asking for amounts that include some items that are inclusive, very inclusive, not just for the boys but for themselves too. I have no doubt that most of us would have responded to the suit the very same way to counteract what may be seen as unreasonable if perfectly legal(the part for the family,not the boys) and then go from there to try to settle and not force the children to testify. It's all negotiation as it should be. If the parents chose to go to court then it's different but my bet is that it will be settled.


Posted by Member, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 27, 2014 at 11:01 am

Just read the posts and I agree with most of them. Truthfully, I am shocked that a driver could cause such devastating injuries to two children and nothing happens to him.
First he blames the children
And now his house is for sale...oh,my, I wonder why?


Posted by Please read before you spew hatred, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 27, 2014 at 11:01 am

ND, you are absolutely right, I responded in a previous string about this that the language used about "blaming the children" is simply standard language used in response to all complaints for negligence. The attorneys would be guilty of malpractice if they didn't include this language. Shame on the Weekly for sensationalizing it, and shame on all of you who are jumping on the bandwagon, The children HAVE NOT BEEN SUED. This is simply a matter for civil courts rather than criminal courts because to commit a crime you have to have intention. The article clearly explains why this is different than running a red light, so everyone who is commenting about how they can run stop signs or red lights with impunity just isn't reading.
The civil suit is now being handled by the attorneys representing Mr, Nelson's insurance company and the attorneys representing the boys. The only data we have about anyone being unreasonable is the fact that the judge has eliminated the punitive damages claim in the suit. Those claims are really only supportable when someone has a history of similar past driving errors or is impaired. Clearly, Mr, Nelson doesn't. Selling his house would not shelter his money, it would actually be more protected in a house than in cash.

To all of you who want to spew hate instead of seeing this as a tragic accident for all concerned, let's hope neither you nor your families ever make a mistake or have an accident- obviously you have no room for compassion.


Posted by David Pepperdine, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 27, 2014 at 11:13 am

Agree that there should be some legal penalty for failing to control a motor vehicle.
The most disgusting part is this:

>> The initial response filed by Nelson's legal team denied his responsibility for the resulting injuries, claiming the children were engaged in behavior that was reckless, careless and negligent.

This is a total disgrace. And from a Stanford Law School graduate no less! For that alone, this man should be <graphic description deleted here>.


Posted by ndtown, a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 27, 2014 at 11:33 am

If Mr. Nelson is married it's not HIS house and since California is a community property state (unless there is a pre-nup or post-nup) agreement the house also belongs to the spouse and selling it might be a way to split the proceeds. But the house might not even belong to him, we don't know.

Something, in fact a lot,and very severe, is happening to him:
is own psycological suffering ( and that of his family) state of having hurt the children unintentionally after 92 years of living

dealing with the opinion of forums like this in which people wish him terrible punishments because he confused two instruments in his car (ye, I know it would be fora, not forums if we were romans but we are not)

dealing with the legal ramifications of the accident

and the monetary losses he will suffer.

Sure the children and their parents suffer more and that will be quantified.


Posted by I Wonder..., a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 27, 2014 at 12:26 pm

ndtown and please read:

There was an earlier comment from an earlier article that pointed out how contributory negligence could be claimed without such inflammatory language. The poster are justified in questioning that language, and in questioning why the DA's office was so lenient with him, as it was with an earlier case involving a different lawyer in Burlingame.

As for the physical problems that usually accompany aging, we who are older are responsible for assessing our competence to drive, and for being extra careful when we are driving. It's not much of a defense to say that some physical conditions aren't obvious--there's a report that the driver needed a walker to move out of the accident scene. That should be a sign to him and his family that he needed to consider giving up his license, as many other people of his age have done.

You say that to commit a crime, volition is necessary. But an "infraction" is not a crime. For a driver who causes an serious accident--and this was serious harm to one of the children for sure, there's no excuse for not receiving an interaction. It seems odd that such a serious driving error that resulted in serious injury to another person wouldn't be considered a violation. Many posters have pointed out that it's absurd to say that you have to kill someone in order for charges to be filed. But that's what we're being asked to believe.

As for Mr. Nelson's money being more protected when it's tied up in his home, that's hardly true if he sells the home, moves somewhere, and puts his assets in hidden accounts in the various places in the US and world where this can be done.

The real tragedy is that the serious injuries, both physical and mental, that this child suffered may last for a long time, perhaps even a lifetime. All of us should be concerned when preventable accidents like this occur, and when the legal system can be manipulated to avoid the consequences of such accidents.


Posted by KP, a resident of South of Midtown
on Jan 27, 2014 at 12:37 pm

From previous story...
"Mr. Nelson states in his response to the lawsuit that the plaintiffs "carelessly, recklessly and negligently conducted and maintained themselves" in a way that contributed to the accident. Furthermore, "knowing the probable consequences thereof, (they) placed themselves in a position of danger and voluntarily participated in all the activities," and so assumed any related risks."
I hope I don't walk on the sidewalk and arelessly, recklessly and negligently cause myself to be run over by a car!
LMFAO!!! Really!
I understand accidents, but to try to put the blame on the victims walking on the sidewalk?/ makes you have no wishes for a break for him - take his ass to jail for vehicular attempted murder! Screw him!


Posted by Tom, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 27, 2014 at 1:38 pm

Intention is NOT required for something to be considered a crime in many cases. You can not just say you didn't mean to, and do anything you want.

The DA has plenty of legal ammunition if they wanted to pursue justice in this case. If the DA wants to go after someone, they will find a way every time. In this case they have no interest. Why. Because the perp is a wealthy lawyer with plenty of wealthy lawyer friends, who tend to be big political contributors. Its all about money and politics, not justice or the law.

Too bad that investigative journalism is on the decline. If you follow the money, you are likely to find corruption and influence in this case.


Posted by ndtown, a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 27, 2014 at 2:07 pm

The problem of getting older is two-fold:
1. you think you are fine,because as the DA says very well there was no warning at all that the confusion was likely to happen. I know of 40somethings I would never want for my driver and happily jump in the car with a 77 year old who I have observed being extremely competent and with reflexes that leave the much younger wishing.The fact that someone is handicapped in a fashion is not any indication of not being able to drive competently.

2. the biggest problem with self assesment is the fact that when the assessment should be made the person is already pass the cognitive stage from which they can self assess. There is no legal authority, other than a physician that has any responsibility for a driver's competency. Even a physician can only assess competency on a sound medical basis, not just because someone is older, younger or possesses bad reflexes.

I understand that some are not into analysing anything just pointing fingers and being nasty. That behaviour is the province of those who are incapable of understanding. It's not their fault, only their misfortune. There is a legitimate discussion about driving, but this is not it. The children will recover unless someone wants them to replay their suffering.I wish them a happy life.


Posted by Tom, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 27, 2014 at 3:10 pm

Yes, we should just do away with the criminal justice system and replace it with a self assessment system. The jails can be emptied out of anyone who did not get some kind of assessment before they committed their crimes.

This has nothing to do with age. Its just another excuse in a long list of excuses negligent drivers give for hurting others. I lost control, I didn't see him, I fell asleep, the sun was in my eyes, I pressed the wrong pedal, I got my left and right confused, etc, etc. In no other way other than driving can you kill and maim, just make an excuse, and there are no consequences. Any other way you kill or maim people these types of excuses are not accepted. There has to be some kind of consequence for gross negligence for drivers also.


Posted by pearl, a resident of another community
on Jan 27, 2014 at 4:02 pm

TOM: Thank you for your comments. I am in total agreement. I sent a copy of this article to DA Steve Wagstaffe, Senator Jerry Hill, and Rep. Rich Gordon, demanding the law(s) be changed to cover incidents such as the one we're talking about here. It is just OUTRAGEOUS that Nelson is not being prosecuted for recklessly running down two young kids. The fact that Nelson's not stepping up to the plate and taking responsibility for his criminal actions demonstrates his cowardice, his lack of integrity, and his total irresponsibility.

Please, everyone, send a copy of this article to your elected representatives, and to SMCO DA Steve Wagstaffe, voicing your objections to Nelson not having to take responsibility for his criminal actions, and asking for changes in the law. The address for SMCO DA Steve Wagstaffe is: 400 County Center, Third Floor, Redwood City, CA 94063.


Posted by Jim Hols, a resident of Community Center
on Jan 27, 2014 at 4:09 pm

While there are a few knowledgeable empathetic people like ndtown, most of the posts are really just full of hatred for someone they don't know. If you put yourself in this man's shoes you will be traumatized and sad about running over children.

The civil trial will result in compensation for the children. Maybe not enough. But really - he made a mistake as we all do or can.

Every time someone cuts me off on the road, my first instinct is to bellow at him. But I remind myself that I have done the same to other drivers. Not intentionally, but by a lapse in judgement. We all have accidents as we go through life.

Stop with the judgements and hatred. Let the civil court compensate.


Posted by I Wonder..., a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 27, 2014 at 4:14 pm

Goodness, NDTown, your assertions are really extraordinary! Some are not into analyzing anything but just pointing fingers and being nasty? Perhaps some are just into making excuses for someone who should have been sensible enough to give up his license a while ago!

Let's analyze the issue of impairment. Needing a walker is not a sign of full possession of feelings in one's legs, or the ability to make quick adjustments with legs and feet. Perhaps there's something lacking in a system like our DMV licensing system that doesn't take this into account. Perhaps there's also something lacking in an individual who persists in journeying out in his BMW with such issues.

Now, does it really make any sense to argue,, as you do, that even though this person had no warning aside from needing a walker, which shows a significant degree of impairment, that he lacked function in his legs and feet, he was clearly not responsible because he has passed the stage where he can cognitively assess? So this well-to-do and successful lawyer bears no responsibility for anything he does? Talk about a legal catch-22! By your lights, elderly people bear no responsibility for anything.

I thank the good Lord that many older people don't stubbornly continue driving in spite of the clear evidence of their serious issues. Your defense of this man's actions amounts to enabling very destructive behavior and allowing him to avoid any consequences for this serious accident and maiming of an innocent young child!


Posted by ndtown, a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 27, 2014 at 5:04 pm

This will be my last post on this matter. Accusing me of "..."Your defense of this man's actions amounts to enabling very destructive behavior and allowing him to avoid any consequences for this serious accident and maiming of an innocent young child!" is so irrational that it's not possible to reason with the person who directed those comments to me. How are my comments enabling the event (in the past) and the consequences....? How?
I have also conclude that people in rage are incapable of comprehending a text ....I pointed precisely that the present system expects self assessment of drivers' competence and why that's not possible. Somehow hatred makes people read the contrary of what is written.
A district attorney found that criminal law doesn't apply to the matter and latter on a distinguished judge dismissed (I believe without prejudice) the part of the lawsuit asking for punitive damages ( are the parents being unreasonable?). Unless others facts that I don't know come to light, I believe both are right


Posted by tomwats, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 27, 2014 at 6:34 pm

Mr. Edward Nelson's dox can be found just by googling
Edward Nelson+Stanford
Web Link

Sending pizza now


Posted by I Wonder..., a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 27, 2014 at 9:12 pm

Ndtown, [portion removed] You make excuses for irresponsible behavior and failure to take responsibility for actions that maimed a young child who was innocently walking on the sidewalk. You support the decision of the District Attorney's office not to even issue an infraction for such a destructive act. By your logic, this older person with some evident physical issues could not possibly have known a problem existed. Even if he did know, he was incompetent to assess himself in any way. Even the DMV seems to get a pass from you, on the theory evidently that the present system is just the way it is, nothing to be done.

No, Ndtown, you did not actually enable Mr. Nelson's accident. (I am assuming that you are not a friend or relative of his.) But your arguments amount to excuses for really destructive acts. They do aid Mr. Nelson in what seems to be efforts to avoid responsibility for the harm he has caused. In that sense, they are enabling arguments. In effect, they amount to arguments that could enable bad behavior from other people, a model for how to avoid responsibility for irresponsible action that result in serious injury to others.

Let's try to exhibit more responsible logic that will help people realize that they need to behave responsibly, no matter what their age.


Posted by NVJ, a resident of another community
on Jan 28, 2014 at 1:11 am

Menlo Park is a sick, sick city. So glad I don't live there.


Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 28, 2014 at 8:53 am

Pearl said:
> It is just OUTRAGEOUS that Nelson is not being prosecuted for recklessly running down two young kids.

I am not happy and even angry with this guy and the situation. Certainly not as angry as the child and parents must be. I cannot imagine what effect walking around in my life in a normal day and having someone out of nowhere hit me and injure me permanently ... that is a terrible tragedy.

However, I think the biggest problem here is the fuzziness of the law and people's understanding of the law. You cannot respond to ever accident no matter what the consequences thinking that the "perpetrator" was deliberately trying to harm people. I'm sure given a choice if the driver had it to do over again he would have taken more care to avoid whatever thoughtless action or mistake he made ... but he did make it and it resulted in harm.

I think the point is that crimes are judged at least partially by intent. The drive did not intend to harm anyone. To prove that he was or knew he was a danger on the road ... I don't know how you do that unless it is really obvious. Just because the man is 90 years old does not mean he is a bad driver, although I hope he loses his license because this incident does prove something.

The comment about the boys being at fault or partially to blame is comment that inflames people, myself included. If he said it in some way to prejudice possible jurors I hope any court ignores that. But that has very little to do with the actually possibility of a crime, it just means he is not someone most of us would want to be around.

I hope in any civil trial this man and his insurance company are on the hook for all damages as well as anything punitive is that applies as well. The poor kid that got hit by this guy had his life changed by this person's negligence ... and personally it seems like negligence to be to be driving on the sidewalk. I have been driving for 40 years now and have never hit a pedestrian or found myself on a sidewalk.

Should we hold drivers to a higher standard ... yes ... maybe ... but how do we do that in a fair way that does not ruin the benefit that we get from our great mobility in this world? Driving home last night from Santa Clara to Palo Alto I marveled at how quick we all make these trips on a daily basis that would take up most of a day if we did not have the transportation system we have.

Best wishes for the boy who was hit, and I dearly hope this man pays for his actions in whatever way the legal system chooses to work.


Posted by This is so frustrating, a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 28, 2014 at 1:15 pm

I suggest that drivers above a certain age 80? 85? be required to operate a vehicle like those available to people who are paralyzed from waist down, using the controls at the steering wheel instead of relying on their feet and thus, hopefully avoiding the confusion between pedals...who pays for the cars modification? perhaps a portion of a gasoline tax... but this may be especially necessary for someone needing a walker to ambulate... His blaming the kids...reaaallly?? that is the part of this that really put me over the top. Speedy recovery to all those affected. God Bless you all


Posted by kludged, a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 3, 2014 at 11:14 am

This problem could easily be solved by have 80+ year olds take a driving test and road exam every two years. Problem solved.


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