News

Greene Middle School student, riding a bicycle, killed in Friday night collision

Child was riding near California Avenue and El Camino Real when he was struck

Read our latest story: Following tragic bike accident, a local family and their friends take action. 'Slow down for kids. Be more mindful.'

---

A Greene Middle School student on a bicycle died Friday night, March 6, when he was struck by flatbed truck at El Camino Real and California Avenue in Palo Alto, police and school officials said.

The child was identified as 11-year-old Paul Lafargue of Palo Alto, according to the Santa Clara County Medical Examiner-Coroner's Office.

The boy attended Frank S. Greene Jr. Middle School, district Superintendent Don Austin confirmed. The school district will provide extra counseling support to students and staff at Greene this week.

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Police received multiple calls around 7:40 p.m. Friday about a collision between a vehicle and bicyclist. Officers and Palo Alto Fire Department personnel responded "right away," but the boy was pronounced dead at the scene, according to a police press release issued Saturday.

A preliminary investigation has revealed both the boy and the truck were traveling eastbound on California Avenue approaching El Camino, with the boy riding on the sidewalk.

The vehicle, a white 2008 International flatbed truck, made a right turn to head southbound on El Camino and hit the boy, police said.

The driver, a Palo Alto man in his 60s, stayed at the scene and cooperated with police. He was uninjured, police said, and has not been cited or arrested pending the outcome of the investigation. Police do not believe drugs or alcohol were a factor in the crash.

Southbound lanes of El Camino were closed until 1:30 a.m. Saturday while police investigated the scene.

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A memorial for the boy has sprung up near the intersection, with community members leaving bouquets of flowers, stuffed animals, a Rubik's cube, candles and notes.

"Rest in peace, sweet child" said one that had been taped onto a tree above a picture filled with pink, purple and blue hearts.

Anyone who may have witnessed this collision and who has not already spoken with police about it is asked to call the department's 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be emailed to [email protected] or sent by text message or voicemail to 650-383-8984. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through the police's free mobile app, downloadable at bit.ly/PAPD-AppStore or bit.ly/PAPD-GooglePlay.

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Greene Middle School student, riding a bicycle, killed in Friday night collision

Child was riding near California Avenue and El Camino Real when he was struck

by Julia Brown and Elena Kadvany / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Sat, Mar 7, 2020, 2:05 pm
Updated: Wed, Mar 11, 2020, 4:01 pm

Read our latest story: Following tragic bike accident, a local family and their friends take action. 'Slow down for kids. Be more mindful.'

---

A Greene Middle School student on a bicycle died Friday night, March 6, when he was struck by flatbed truck at El Camino Real and California Avenue in Palo Alto, police and school officials said.

The child was identified as 11-year-old Paul Lafargue of Palo Alto, according to the Santa Clara County Medical Examiner-Coroner's Office.

The boy attended Frank S. Greene Jr. Middle School, district Superintendent Don Austin confirmed. The school district will provide extra counseling support to students and staff at Greene this week.

Police received multiple calls around 7:40 p.m. Friday about a collision between a vehicle and bicyclist. Officers and Palo Alto Fire Department personnel responded "right away," but the boy was pronounced dead at the scene, according to a police press release issued Saturday.

A preliminary investigation has revealed both the boy and the truck were traveling eastbound on California Avenue approaching El Camino, with the boy riding on the sidewalk.

The vehicle, a white 2008 International flatbed truck, made a right turn to head southbound on El Camino and hit the boy, police said.

The driver, a Palo Alto man in his 60s, stayed at the scene and cooperated with police. He was uninjured, police said, and has not been cited or arrested pending the outcome of the investigation. Police do not believe drugs or alcohol were a factor in the crash.

Southbound lanes of El Camino were closed until 1:30 a.m. Saturday while police investigated the scene.

A memorial for the boy has sprung up near the intersection, with community members leaving bouquets of flowers, stuffed animals, a Rubik's cube, candles and notes.

"Rest in peace, sweet child" said one that had been taped onto a tree above a picture filled with pink, purple and blue hearts.

Anyone who may have witnessed this collision and who has not already spoken with police about it is asked to call the department's 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be emailed to [email protected] or sent by text message or voicemail to 650-383-8984. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through the police's free mobile app, downloadable at bit.ly/PAPD-AppStore or bit.ly/PAPD-GooglePlay.

Comments

Resident
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 7, 2020 at 2:10 pm
Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 7, 2020 at 2:10 pm

It was not a car, but a flat bed truck or tow truck. Very different sized vehicles. Very sad tragedy.

RIP.


Barron Park dad
Barron Park
on Mar 7, 2020 at 2:10 pm
Barron Park dad, Barron Park
on Mar 7, 2020 at 2:10 pm

So sorry to hear about this.


merry
Palo Alto Hills
on Mar 7, 2020 at 2:30 pm
merry, Palo Alto Hills
on Mar 7, 2020 at 2:30 pm
Terribly sad
Greenmeadow
on Mar 7, 2020 at 3:20 pm
Terribly sad, Greenmeadow
on Mar 7, 2020 at 3:20 pm

This is tragic. Evening is a hard time for bikers. Right turns are especially difficult for drivers with bikes in the mix. We talked about this at home -- what would our kids do? As a biker, and particularly at night, you have to be paranoid and assume no one sees you. But that can be hard to keep in mind. I am so sorry for the family, and for the driver as well.


Tsk
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 7, 2020 at 3:40 pm
Tsk, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 7, 2020 at 3:40 pm
Sadparent
Palo Verde
on Mar 7, 2020 at 3:47 pm
Sadparent, Palo Verde
on Mar 7, 2020 at 3:47 pm

This is heart breaking news. I’m so sorry for everyone involved.


Jay
another community
on Mar 7, 2020 at 4:49 pm
Jay, another community
on Mar 7, 2020 at 4:49 pm

An accident like this effects so many... the boy’s family and friends. The truck driver. The bystanders. Lastly, the first responders who worked on the boy.


Chris
Greenmeadow
on Mar 7, 2020 at 4:51 pm
Chris, Greenmeadow
on Mar 7, 2020 at 4:51 pm

Truly sad to read this...this boy had his whole life ahead of him... And yet, will anything change with the congestion on El Camino? Probably not..

Because of campers parked on a very congested El Camino Real, HWY 82 in Palo Alto, VTA buses, trucks, etc. need to drive in 2 lanes to pass the campers. This is a hazard for kids/adults on bikes, other drivers on congested El Camino Real in Palo Alto do not have room to drive/ride a bike. The stretch of El Camino Real from Los Robles Ave past Maybell Ave, Palo Alto, is another location for an accident waiting to happen, especially with the schools in the area, kids biking. In addition, the road is full of very large pot holes with all the construction trucks and the city/state has not repaved this road in decades.

The buses need to drive in 2 lanes to get past the campers parked on El Camino Real, in South Palo Alto. Since early January 2020, the same campers have parked in the same location on El Camino Real in South Palo Alto, preventing viability for intersections.

The City of Palo Alto and Police leave these campers parked for weeks and months at a time in the same location, even though the city ordinance is 72 hour parking. When is a dedicated location going to be found to house these campers?



Family Friendly
Old Palo Alto
on Mar 7, 2020 at 5:19 pm
Family Friendly, Old Palo Alto
on Mar 7, 2020 at 5:19 pm

@Chris: The [portion removed] campers on El Camino are indeed a safety and health hazard. However, not at the intersection of El Camino and California.

This seems like it was probably a large truck with poor right-side visibility turning right, on a dark night, and hitting a kid riding straight ahead. The solution would be to increase the lighting at that intersection, or eliminate the right turn on red, or prohibit trucks on California Ave.


GASTON OLVERA
Charleston Meadows
on Mar 7, 2020 at 5:28 pm
GASTON OLVERA, Charleston Meadows
on Mar 7, 2020 at 5:28 pm

A couple of months ago I attended a bicycle safety class with my son. Organized by the Palo Alto police department. He had been given a ticket for riding without a helmet. It was two hours of traffic rules, safety education that ended with a short documentary of a young man who suffered a head injury while snowboarding. The message from the two officers was clear to the kids. Please wear your helmets, know the traffic rules, have lights ( it is required by the California vehicle code) wear reflecting clothing, or at least not all black particularly at night, make eye contact, be predictable. As parents we need to teach this skills to our kids. But as drivers we need to exercise more caution while driving. When the officers showed photos of real bike collisions. And how he had to tell the parents of a young man that he was in the hospital and he might not make it. The whole room full of “cool high school kids” was dead silent. It became evident how serious the situation was. I’m glad I attended and my kid has been more careful while biking after that day. I hope us drivers and parents do our part in making this town safer for children.


Sam Lan
Old Palo Alto
on Mar 7, 2020 at 5:52 pm
Sam Lan , Old Palo Alto
on Mar 7, 2020 at 5:52 pm

@Tsk it’s not biking that needs to be discorouged! For starters, not everyone has the ability to commute in a different fashion. Furthermore, it should be bike safety that needs to be emphasized. When there are many car accidents, we shouldn’t tell people to not use cars, but instead tell them how to be more safe. This is a really sad and terrible event, but we must think about the actual root of a problem rather than the direct implications. RIP


Carol
Palo Verde
on Mar 7, 2020 at 6:26 pm
Carol, Palo Verde
on Mar 7, 2020 at 6:26 pm

I posted this on Nextdoor so will use my name.

If you want to talk about bike safety then let's talk about bike education in school. This is what I went through as a child in my school.

Thank you for the reminder of bike safety classes. When I was a child we did bicycle proficiency classes, I think part of the PE curriculum. The lessons were each week about 30 minutes for many weeks with a test at the end. For the first couple of weeks we were not even on bikes, but walking around the lines in the playground as if we were on bikes learning how to do hand signals (hold arms out straight at shoulder height and count to 3 before lowering arm and then turning) and to do it before changing lane as well as turning as well as looking over our shoulders before turning. We also were taught to mount and dismount our bikes away from the traffic so that if we wobbled we would not wobble into traffic but into the kerb. We were taught about the necessity of bells and when to use them, and taught about bike lights. We had to learn road signs and traffic lights. All this before we actually got onto the bike. Then we had several weeks learning on the bike.From memory, I don't think we were allowed to ride our bikes to school until we had passed the proficiency test. We were also not allowed to ride bikes on school grounds, the campus, but to walk them from the school gate to the bicycle shed. All these rules stick in my mind. I don't think my offspring learnt anything like that here.


Jen
Southgate
on Mar 7, 2020 at 6:32 pm
Jen, Southgate
on Mar 7, 2020 at 6:32 pm

Sam, it’s not always the victim’s fault, that’s insensitive of you to even say that. I have had children in PAUSD for two decades. The cars are also at fault, they run red lights, roll through stop signs, text while driving. A student got hit on Embarcadero Rd while in the crosswalk on a green light crossing to Town & Country. Driver ran the red and hit her in 2017. The ped/bike accidents are not publicized. I have heard of many bike accidents!


Anonymous1
another community
on Mar 7, 2020 at 7:08 pm
Anonymous1, another community
on Mar 7, 2020 at 7:08 pm

Out of respect for this family sclise this now.


Kieran
Midtown
on Mar 7, 2020 at 7:15 pm
Kieran, Midtown
on Mar 7, 2020 at 7:15 pm

[Post removed. Please refrain from commenting with speculation as to the cause of this tragic accident and respect the fact that a family is grieving the loss of a child.]


merry
Palo Alto Hills
on Mar 7, 2020 at 7:33 pm
merry, Palo Alto Hills
on Mar 7, 2020 at 7:33 pm
Neighbor
Barron Park
on Mar 7, 2020 at 8:17 pm
Neighbor, Barron Park
on Mar 7, 2020 at 8:17 pm

Somewhere in our city a family is suffering an unimaginable loss. I read through some of these comments and I just see coldhearted, distant, blank faces of strangers. Can we all just take a moment to have some heart? Save your bike policy suggestions for the next city meeting. Think of this family in this awful moment and think of the tragic loss of this young child.


Marketdev
Midtown
on Mar 7, 2020 at 8:29 pm
Marketdev, Midtown
on Mar 7, 2020 at 8:29 pm
Nick
another community
on Mar 7, 2020 at 8:42 pm
Nick, another community
on Mar 7, 2020 at 8:42 pm

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