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Father charged in crash that killed daughters

Original post made on Aug 22, 2013

A father has been charged with two counts of vehicular manslaughter after a November roll-over crash in Palo Alto killed two of his daughters and severely injured a CHP officer, the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office announced Thursday, Aug. 22.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, August 22, 2013, 5:16 PM

Comments (41)

Posted by Gene
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 22, 2013 at 5:51 pm

No sensible driver can relate to anyone who is allowing anyone in their vehicle without a seat belt.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 22, 2013 at 5:55 pm

Part of the fault has to be with a society that has 24 hour shopping on Thanksgiving night.

The culture that makes you shop all night to you drop shows that [portion removed] will do just that and then expect someone to stay awake driving them home while they sleep without a seat belt.

Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 22, 2013 at 6:07 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 22, 2013 at 8:39 pm

A tragedy for all involved

Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 22, 2013 at 8:53 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by No surprise
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 22, 2013 at 8:54 pm

Only surprised the father was not charged a lot sooner than this!

Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 22, 2013 at 9:23 pm

Also, the officer was severely injured - why no charges related to that? I think complete charges are in order in this horrible case. NO possible

Posted by sheesh
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 22, 2013 at 10:48 pm

I'm sorry, but I just don't understand the whole point in charging this man. He's in a hell of his own making, and charging him is only going to make it so he can't help his family.

He did something very dumb. He can't fix it or take it back, though I don't doubt he will wish he could for the rest of his life. If the goal isn't to make an example of him, then what's wrong with FORGIVENESS.

Show some mercy, there are other people who have been hurt here, who are the real ones being punished if this action makes it impossible for the family to try to heal together, or makes it impossible for the father to earn a living because of a criminal record and pay for his injured wife's care or take care of his children who have suffered the same loss.

What kind of a barbaric culture are we that we have to grind people into the dirt after they have made mistakes that in and of themselves cause enough devastation? The law should think of the innocent victims here, too, the family.

Posted by Donald
a resident of South of Midtown
on Aug 23, 2013 at 7:27 am

We have a history of being extremely lenient to people who kill with their cars. Yes, this man is already suffering for what he did, but the police said that the number and severity of his violations were too great to be ignored. This is not being barbaric, it is enforcing the law.

Posted by PaloAltan007
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 23, 2013 at 8:15 am

Foul play.. A shopping trip ended up in an accident and now a case of manslaughter because of not enough sleep or seeing ghost figure on the road side.. He needs a good lawyer.

Posted by sheesh
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 23, 2013 at 8:31 am

Sometimes the law is an ass. There's no greater justice to be served by making this man or his family suffer any more than they already are for his mistakes.

Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 23, 2013 at 8:54 am

The article here said the man is from San Bruno. I turned on KTVU Channel 2 News this morning to read a crawl describing him as a "Palo Alto man..."
- This from the news outlet that read that list of phony, racist Asiana pilot names over the air without checking or reflection.
I know the accident occurred on the freeway going through Palo Alto.
I am thankful Palo Alto has several local news outlets as I do want to know what is going on, hopefully with accurate reports.

Posted by Donald
a resident of South of Midtown
on Aug 23, 2013 at 9:11 am

If we should ignore the law in this case, when do we prosecute it? Only when nobody is hurt? What message does it send to other drivers if we let this guy go? We cannot simply accept this level of irresponsibility or we will see the level of automobile carnage increase even further.

Posted by resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 23, 2013 at 9:31 am

Vehicular manslaughter is the same charge that drivers usually get when they kill pedestrians or bicyclists. The penalty is usually a slap on the wrist like a fine or community service.

Posted by what?
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Aug 23, 2013 at 10:55 am

what a tragedy! He will never recover from causing the loss of his daughters and injuries to wife and daughter. He also severely injured a CHP officer. What about his family? On that alone he should be charged with very severe penalties to prevent future occurrences like this.

Posted by LRN
a resident of South of Midtown
on Aug 23, 2013 at 10:59 am

This is a horrendous tragedy and I do not think he should be punished further. However, I agree with those who blame the shopping culture that has gotten very ugly and greedy. This poor man was probably pressured into staying up all night to shop in Gilroy--or to drive his family to and from shopping in Gilroy.

The shopping culture now offers people the opportunity to leave their family Thanksgiving dinners to join stampedes when -- yay!--stores open their doors so they can save a few bucks on useless merchandise. People have also been killed in these stampedes.....consumerism has gotten way out of hand.

Posted by Palo Altoan
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 23, 2013 at 11:17 am

Laws are a means to an end... and in this case I agree that charging this man just adds insult to injury. Having a record will tarnish his reputation and make it difficult to continue supporting the rest of his family.

The bigger issue seems to be his driving skills. Fatigue aside, how can someone make such a simple mistake. How long had he been driving? I am constantly astonished at how many bad drivers on the road today. How did these folks pass their driving test and get a license.

Posted by Lotan
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 23, 2013 at 11:57 am

It should be OK to kill people if you feel bad about it after....NOT

Posted by IMHO
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 23, 2013 at 12:11 pm

I used to drive my neighbor who is in her late eighties grocery shopping. One day I noticed she was not putting her seatbelt on properly - only across the hips. When I asked her to put her seatbelt properly she got very upset with me and is no longer speaking to me. If she were, I would use this article to point out as Hendrickson said, "of the tragic consequences . . . . of not wearing seat belts."
Or not wearing them properly. Also, I would not want to be charged for manslaughter if something happened to my passenger. Yes, the man is suffering and will probably get his license suspended for 18 months but it really does serve as a lesson for the rest of us.

Posted by curious
a resident of Stanford
on Aug 23, 2013 at 12:32 pm

Is there an error on the age of the wife? She is only 10 years older than the oldest daughter was??

Posted by Deep Throat
a resident of another community
on Aug 23, 2013 at 12:57 pm

Maybe the key reason the District Attorney charged the driver with a crime is that one of the victims is a Highway Patrol officer. "The CHP officer only returned to work last month. Had the officer exited his vehicle, which he planned to do, he would have been killed, [supervising deputy district attorney] Hendrickson said."

Posted by MIke
a resident of University South
on Aug 23, 2013 at 1:35 pm

"Is there an error on the age of the wife?"

I'd guess she's his second wife. Some kids were from the first marriage.

Posted by Perspecitve
a resident of another community
on Aug 23, 2013 at 1:39 pm

What a sad event! This incident is an example when people put 'things' above human life. Why is it so important to risk safety of the entire family for a good deal to purchase things so far away. I bet most the merchandise purchased are items the family can live without easily. What a painful experience to all parties involved. May God give them the strength to learn and move on.

Posted by Nora Charles
a resident of Stanford
on Aug 23, 2013 at 9:01 pm

So tragic.

The extended holiday hours are also dangerous for store employees. I know someone at a department store who got into a serious auto accident driving home very late at night after a long shift. She fell asleep and went off the road.

Posted by sheesh
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 24, 2013 at 1:48 am

@ Lolan,
You said, "It should be OK to kill people if you feel bad about it after....NOT"

FORGIVENESS is not the same as saying something is okay. Neither does vindictiveness result in justice. Showing MERCY recognizes that you can't fix things by doing more damage.

There are other, innocent victims who survived, who have injuries and who suffered the same losses. They are being punished at the same time. For what purpose? The judge said he wasn't trying to set an example.

Do you want to perpetuate this tragedy in these people's lives so that there is no chance anyone will ever recover? is that what you want? Do you think there's any chance anyone could teach him a lesson he isn't going to suffer every day for the rest of his life because of the tragedy itself? If you can't bring yourself to put down your stone for the father, remember a surviving child needs her parents and is being put through this, too, after already losing her sisters.

Posted by Alphonso
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Aug 24, 2013 at 7:12 am

So the DA does not prosecute the guy with meth in his system who was driving too fast for the conditions (blinded by sun) and nearly kills a kid on his bike yet goes after a father who fell asleep. I doubt the guy wanted to drive, but his daughters and wife insisted he drive them to Black Friday sales. This accident appears to be a pure accident and the DA should not be involved. This action is just pouring salt on a serious wound.

Posted by Lolan
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 24, 2013 at 9:37 pm

@Sheesh, read the article again carefully and get your facts straight.

Posted by businessdecision
a resident of another community
on Aug 26, 2013 at 2:54 pm

DASHIELL HAMMETT CHARACTER, I WAS being provocative, partly being provocative, when I said negative things about rescuers. I was certainly not being judgmental. Calling people damaged is being accurate, not judgmental.

Posted by Sheesh
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2013 at 3:45 pm


My facts are straight. Read my previous posts before make assumptions (rushing to judgment).

Posted by PAresident
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 30, 2013 at 2:07 pm

I'm disappointed in any of the Palo Alto residents that think this father hasn't been punished enough for his role in his daughters tragic accident. Does DA Cindy Hendrickson think Mr. Tandel is going to be driving anywhere with passengers without seat belts after losing his daughter. Who does the DA think she is protecting in this case? Society? His family has been punished with the tragic loss to their daughter and sister on the most family oriented holiday of the year. Does the county think he is a risk to be a repeat offender? What service does this provide in victimizing this family further. Do the sisters feel vindication with their father being accused in their sisters death. Is the financial burden which affects the entire family helping with grief counseling. Is DA Hendrickson's pursuing this prosecution because she is in such dire need of a case win to help improve her prosecution win/loss record. Because clearly victimizing a family a second time is protecting the interests of the greater society at large. The one thing I always prided myself on being from the bay area and growing up in Palo Alto was that the people here were always concerned with the welfare of others regardless of the ethnicity, social or economic status, or religious belief. They were compassionate and empathetic of others and were always willing to assist an person in need and never turned a blind eye to the suffering of others. The Tandel's have suffered and are still suffering an unimaginable loss on the most special family holiday of the year. Does anyone really think this is the case to bring charges against a grieving family, because trust me your not just inditing the father, the whole family is suffering this second insult. Give these people the space and the respect to grieve in peace without your judgmental finger pointing. Because if you have the misfortune to have a tragic loss in your life, what kind of neighbors do you think you have? If you are not sure, start working on the one in the mirror.

Posted by J W
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 30, 2013 at 7:43 am

To everyone who thinks it's ridiculous they're charging him -

They gave him the lowest charge possible, it's a misdemeanor not a felony.
Are not pursuing jail time or even community service.

Why? Because it's the only legal way to suspend his license for a year and a half. Yes, he's suffered great personal loss, but the DA has a responsibility to the community that this man is not back on the road anytime soon, -especially- given his now precarious mental state.

This will be an open and shut case, he'll plead guilty and the judge will suspend time on sentence with probation and a 1.5 year license suspension. The community will have what it needs to guarantee he's not driving, without having been "barbaric and cruel" during his personal loss.

Posted by anonymous85
a resident of another community
on Nov 30, 2013 at 8:38 am

Charging him for an accident is ridiculous. First, running on only three hours of nothing for most working people in this country. Second, we don't know the conditions of the road, if he somehow lost control of the car, if he hit a bump and swerved, or if he just didn't see the vehicle he hit in time. Everyone needs to stop demonizing Black Friday and Black Friday shoppers. The events surrounding this week every year disgusting, but we all promote it. We are all responsible for it. We all sit and wait to hear the next big Black Friday tragedy.Get off of your high horses.

Posted by Paul and Carroll
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 30, 2013 at 8:48 am

Let me get understand this from their attorney... Do I have this right??
Break the law and as long as someone is killed you should not be charged with any crime?? Really?? That is his defense?? I hope they are not paying a lot of money for this attorney..
I am not saying I do not have compassion for their loss but if you are willing to take the risk and do the crime you must face the consequences. The same as if your driving drunk and kill someone you must face the charges, so must this father face the consequences for his actions. He chose that all the items purchased that day was more important than his family. He chose to use the back seat for packages rather than the safety of his children. Now he has no choice but to face the charges that go with his choices.
Just because businesses are open 24/7 364 (most are closed Christmas for now) they are open because the people choose to shop. If the people did not shop or support the holiday hours the businesses would not open because it would not be profitable. It's not the businesses fault they are open it's the people who support them. If you’re going to shop 24/7 you are responsible for your actions not anyone but yourself.
No punishment any court can issue will be equal to the loss of his family members and the injuries he caused. He will have to live with that for the rest of his life. But he still must face all criminal charges that go with it.

Posted by Bercana
a resident of another community
on Nov 30, 2013 at 9:18 am

Driving on 3 hours sleep with two unbelted passengers (to make room for your giant tv or whatever) is NOT an accident.

Posted by kaykay
a resident of Woodside
on Nov 30, 2013 at 9:57 am

couldn't agree more with bercana! this accident was made up of conscious choices that put taking home materialistic items above individual's safety. I find them ALL guilty, personally. they all knew what they were choosing to do was illegal and unsafe, especially with the loads of people/traffic out shopping on this day. the two girls chose to sit too many people in a row and to sit without seat belts.
I get the man is the driver and decision maker for his passengers though. and I support the charges. yes, he and his family are going through a lot as it is. but they wouldn't be going through any of it if he hadnt allowed the choices he allowed in his vehicle. and that's what needs to be punished. just because his actions led to self-punishment doesn't mean he's free from being punished by the law like the rest of us.
their choices led to the deaths of their children, and they should all feel guilty and responsible for it, not just the father, unless one of the children spoke out against any sitting without seat belts; those who remained silent and went with it as if they were good choices, yep, they're just as guilty IMO.
all of this was preventable.

Posted by Linda Silvas
a resident of another community
on Nov 30, 2013 at 10:02 am

Heartbreaking... This is a good man that could have stayed home... like most men and slept ... and let his family of girls go shop on their own.

But, as tired as he was, he took his girls shopping at an unusual time. He was doing what a protective husband/father would have done.

I am so sorry for their loss, the pain this man and his family will live with.

Not our place to pass judgment.


Posted by Gangsta
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Nov 30, 2013 at 10:57 am

For crying out loud, the man killed two people and injured a bunch, including an officer who was helping another driver. He is not facing jail time or fines. 1.5 years will go by, and he will be allowed to drive again. You think he is gonna climb back behind the wheel NOW and not relive his nightmare? Maybe the suspension can help him ease back into driving.

If I were the father, I would be so devastated that I would want to die myself or take any punishment. These other petty charges won't even matter to me.

Posted by Sanga
a resident of another community
on Nov 30, 2013 at 12:45 pm

Cannot believe the people here saying he should not be charge. We should feel sorry that he's lost half his family. I'm sorry but he also murdered an innocent person. The officer could have been killed also.

Also while we're feeling sorry for him, can we spare a thought for the two poor girls, who died because of his foolishness?? Oh sure, he's sorry for his behaviour, but it's his poor daughters who paid the ultimate price, and who knows if they even wanted to come along on the trip? This man was a danger to both his family and to innocent drivers and passengers on that highway.

I fully agree with charging him for his idiocy. This is ridiculous behaviour, to be shopping all night and then thinking you can drive home afterwards. We can't be letting anyone get away with this kind of behaviour and people need to open their eyes to dangers such as this.

Posted by Tyla
a resident of another community
on Nov 30, 2013 at 1:33 pm

As a truck driver, I think this should come with the mandatory 4-8 years jail time. I am expected to pull over so I don't kill your families and I would face such charges if I am responsible for such negligence.
24 hour sales are not to blame, many people exist and operate late in the evenings with no problems. Simply put, not having enough seatbelts means you should leave the kids at home. Motorists should really wake up and take their travel more seriously. It is the most dangerous part of your day. If you buy too much, take 2 trips. It's the right thing to do.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 30, 2013 at 2:05 pm

There is a lot wrong with what happened in this story.

The road construction on 101 this time last year was definitely a contributing factor and what amazes me is that they are still unfinished.

Greed by corporate America and American consumers have to be the underlying cause of such things. Greed by corporations to entice shoppers competing against other corporations and other greedy shoppers just encourages weak minded public to do stupid things like shop all night and drive with little sleep.

I have no sympathy for anyone who shops til they drop and the drop causes injury or death. The people who shop regardless on the day they should be thankful for what they have show lack of substance, in my opinion. Family values should be spending quality time together rather than worship of the almighty dollar.

Posted by norm62
a resident of another community
on Nov 30, 2013 at 2:15 pm

@anonymous85 - Running on three hours sleep is stupid. As someone else pointed out [maybe not here, but somewhere], it ranks right up there with driving drunk. How about you try and put in a full 21 hour day, have a three hour cat-nap, then drive some distance [on a highway], shop for a few hours and then drive back. I'm willing to bet you're going to be feeling pretty sluggish and be prone to dozing off. Stupid and dangerous.

As for this guy, yes, he should be charged, yes, he should lose his licence. People are all boo-hoo, he lost two children, he has been punished enough, etc, etc... but what of the others, the innocent people he injured? Don't they deserve some measure of justice? While the whole family was stupid for venturing out to join the mobs of people for this ridiculous shopping "event", he was the one behind the wheel and should have just stopped and rested before driving.

Some would call this an accident, I call it reckless behaviour that resulted in two deaths and a slew of injuries.

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