Town Square

Post a New Topic

Pedestrians struck by car near Mitchell Park Library

Original post made on May 9, 2017

Two elderly pedestrians struck by a car while crossing the street near Mitchell Park Library Tuesday morning were sent to a hospital, police said.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, May 9, 2017, 11:27 AM

Comments (37)

Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 9, 2017 at 12:07 pm

Scary, dozens if not hundreds of kids cross at Mayview and Middlefield to get to school around then. Neighbors please please please remember to drive carefully.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 9, 2017 at 1:00 pm

The article doesn't mention whether the lights were red or green for the Middlefield traffic or whether the pedestrians were going with the "walk" signal.

At around this time of the morning Middlefield is busy and pedestrians and bike traffic as well as vehicles should have noticed the state of the lights. I hope that this gets cleared up to see if the driver was at fault.

I hope also that these pedestrians recover fully.

Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 9, 2017 at 1:11 pm

Usually crossing guards at that intersection.

Posted by BH
a resident of JLS Middle School
on May 9, 2017 at 2:31 pm

The problem is the crosign guards don't know how to properly cross pedestrians at this location. They stop traffic for the full Green Cycle not leaving any time for cars. Leaving drivers having to do maneuvers that they normally wouldn't. They are supposed to stop pedestrians and bikes from entering the intersection when the flashing hand starts flashing and they don't.

Posted by Leigh
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 9, 2017 at 2:50 pm

Mayview was blocked off this morning, not Middlefield. So, it looked like the accident was not at the Mayview-Middlefield crosswalk, but in the middle of the Mayview block.

Posted by Speed Bumps
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 9, 2017 at 4:10 pm

Neighbor is right, there are so many kids and families who use this street and area while trying to get to school. I have often seen impatient and inattentive drivers plow right through without letting pedestrians go first, or honking the cars who are trying to let the pedestrians cross on the walk signal. In their hurry to get between places they ignore basic safety, traffic rules, and have caused numerous near-miss incidents. We should have more speed bumps on this street to slow folks down.

Posted by resident
a resident of South of Midtown
on May 9, 2017 at 6:59 pm

Best wishes to the victims. Cars go way too fast on Middlefield. This intersection is tricky for distracted drivers since the road is curving where the stop light is, so they may not see the stop light if traffic is heavy and they are not paying full attention to the road.

Posted by Lives 1 block away from Mayview
a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 9, 2017 at 9:55 pm

This is a very dangerous section of road. I personally was sideswiped while riding at the same time in the morning on my bike. There are many bikers and rushing morning commuters. Luckily for me, I only got a road rash and bruised shoulder. The driver sped off without slowing down.

Posted by Local
a resident of Greenmeadow
on May 9, 2017 at 10:01 pm

My thoughts go out to the victims and driver. We are all concerned about speeding cars and safety, but in this instance we don't have all of the facts. Many of these posts are speculating about the circumstances without even understanding where the accident took place. From the description in the article and from the positioning of the vehicle when I drove by, this took place halfway down the Mayview stretch leading to the Middlefield intersection. The crosswalks, lights, and crossing guards at the Middlefield/Mayview intersection were not involved. Let's not jump to conclusions without having all of the facts.

Posted by PA plans to rase speed limits
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 9, 2017 at 10:08 pm

Remember that the City plans to raise speed limits right there as of this article from November. This totally disregards what residents told Mr. Mello in various meetings.

You might want to remind him that Middlefield is dangerous and has lots of schools.

Web Link

Partial list of sections where increases are proposed:
Middlefield Road, from Embarcadero to Oregon Expressway | From 25 to 30

Middlefield Road, from East Charleston to south city limit | From 25 to 30

Posted by Member
a resident of Mayfield
on May 9, 2017 at 10:33 pm

Wow... I didn't see the accident, but on my way biking to school, I saw all the police cars, medical care, and all the flashing lights as the accident happened where I normally cross to go to school. If I left home ten minutes earlier, I may have witnessed the accident... it's kind of scary.

Posted by Anna
a resident of Gunn High School
on May 9, 2017 at 11:45 pm

Crissing gards are not alwYs were they need to be, specially right befire schiol starts when kids are coming late to school. The crossing gard at East Meadow and El Canino always leaves early, and she also jaywalks to her :(.

Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 10, 2017 at 12:00 am

People simply do not pay attention any more when they drive. My car
had to go in the shop today for a bit. I do not normally walk around
town during the day, but I had the chance today.

I realized his the who feeling of walking in Palo Alto has changed. I
really felt vulnerable out there. Cars speeding by all of them speeding.
There is rampant stop sign running or slow-down and running these

An area people should know better is in front of Whole Foods, and
getting across Homer St. there is like the video game Frogger for
God's sake. Lots of cars and people pulling into the street from
the sidewalks and customers walking back and forth, while some cars
just see a chance, roll the dice and and gun it right through.

Another thing I notice that does not mix well with the way people
are driving is the way people walk. It used to be that when people
walked up to a cross-section they stopped, and looked for cars,
and if a car was there or going they would wait and then go. Today
a lot of pedestrians do not even bother to look for cars. they simply
assume that cars have to stop for them.

Maybe that is because there are so so many more cars out there
that pedestrians simply have to find what looks like a decent sized
gap in traffic and make the best of it.

This is a dangerous game, but folks just seem to pick up these
aggressive behaviors and taunt each other and play chicken.

This is why I am skeptical of the City pushing for everyone to
ride bicycles or walk. Everything is set up to create lots of high
risk situations. Even buses almost leave a skid mark when they
pull up to the stops.

From what I am experiencing and seeing by driving around Palo
Alto these days is that the most improved behavior is coming
from the bicyclists, who stop unless they lock eyes and get a
clear go-ahead from a car driver at an intersection. So don't
believe it the next time you hear some grump going off about
bike ridings running stop-signs.

Posted by C
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on May 10, 2017 at 12:18 am

The traffic signals are very confusing, cars often get green lights and start to turn right, only to find pedestrians also get green and are crossing at the same time. It relies on the driver's judgement too often, red means stop and green means go, simple right? Unfortunately you could go when it's red and sometimes you cannot go when it's green. Adding the slew of bikers who shares the same roads but don't follow the same rules. There is no excuse speeding, but a confused or tired driver could easily make mistakes.

Posted by ConcernedResident
a resident of College Terrace

on May 10, 2017 at 10:46 am

Due to violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are only visible to registered users who are logged in. Use the links at the top of the page to Register or Login.

Posted by Let's be safe out there.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 10, 2017 at 10:53 am

Dear Drivers,

Even if you have a green, if a pedestrian is in your way, YOU are required by law to yield. PERIOD. You are not permitted to prioritize your convenience over the safety of others. That said, a pedestrian may not deliberately step in the path of an oncoming car that doesn't have time to stop (assuming legal speeds). We don't know who is at fault here.

Nonetheless, this driver hit not one, but TWO, elderly pedestrians mid-block on a residential street (not Middlefield, this happened on Mayview). Did the driver not see them? Was the driver distracted? Was the driver going so fast s/he couldn't respond in time? (The speed limit there is 20mph).

Drivers, a car is a potential weapon (whether you intend it to be or not). A driver's license is a great privilege which we are afforded with the understanding that we will drive attentively, legally, thoughtfully. We all need to get off our cell phones and mind what we are doing. More than any other road user, driver mistakes can maim and kill. BE the kind of citizen who chooses behavior that contributes to a safe community for us all.

Posted by seeking update
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 10, 2017 at 11:06 am

Will there be an update on the condition of the pedestrians and also on the details of the accident? Many people are concerned about their condition and also about the safety of the area where hundreds of children walk and bike. Thank you.

Posted by Concerned Neighbor
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 10, 2017 at 11:36 am

We all acknowledge cars on Mayview go way too fast, especially when they are trying to make the signal on Middlefield. This is highly dangerous, considering this is a residential zone with kids, bicyclists, and elders walking. The accident happened on Mayview, NOT at the intersection. I don't want to speculate what the driver was doing. First and foremost, how is the couple doing? Everyone is our neighborhood is very concerned and want to know if they are okay.
Secondly, what can we do to make this street safer? A big speed limit sign with a light-up sensor warning drivers if they are going too fast? Speedbumps? I would push for both.

Posted by Chip
a resident of Professorville
on May 10, 2017 at 12:02 pm

I hope the victims fully recover. Until all the facts are reported & known, we don't know what, if any, distractions there were for the driver (sun glare, phone use, right turn, etc) or when in the walk-signal cycle the pedestrians entered the crosswalk.
California's speed limits are 25 mph in school zones when children are present. There's a 15 mph for alleys & approaching rail crossings. If, as Let's Be Safe. . . claimed, a 20 mph limit is posted, it's wrong & not done by any gov't authority.

The safest way to cross is to have pedestrian-activated signals which are properly timed to allow safe passages by slow-walking elderly or short-legged children. It might also help mitigate driver impatience if there were periodic monitoring & ticketing for jay-walkers. After stopping to avoid jaywalkers 2 or 3 times in 2 or 3 blocks, some drivers are impatient & may not check crosswalks as carefully as they should. Another hazard is drivers making right turns.
the reflex is to look left for oncoming traffic rather than right for pedestrians crossing.

Posted by mutti
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 10, 2017 at 12:14 pm

I live just off Mayview and often have walked this block in the morning. It sounds like the accident happened in the middle of the block, not the intersection with Middlefield? I'm afraid I often cross from the north side of Mayview to the South side mid-block here because I don't want to wait for the light at Middlefield to cross from north side to south side of Mayview. And the designers of Mitchell Park made the crosswalk on the north side dead-end into bushes if you want to walk thru to the library or Mitchell park. I wish the sidewalk was also on the north side of the parking lot thru to Mitchell Park

Posted by Arthur
a resident of Menlo Park
on May 10, 2017 at 12:16 pm

I see that everyone on the comment section is unanimously condemning drivers. But pedestrians need to be more careful too. People walk right onto the street thinking "I have the right of way" without thinking of the consequences (you have more to lose than your license). Sometimes they seem to jump out of the bushes to test driver reflexes and brake quality.
Pedestrians, look before you cross [portion removed.]

Posted by what a mess
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 10, 2017 at 12:25 pm

Palo Alto has become a race track where possible,
trying to make up lost time in congestion zones. The City staff then covers the streets with more and more signs,paint,bollards,etc every day which results in more distractions to drivers and narrowed lanes actually making the streets more dangerous and uglier every day,all at the same time, e.g. Middlefield at Jordan, while reducing traffic enforcement by eliminating the motorcycle cops and continuing loose land use control and zoning favoring more and more development and traffic. All these trends converge on the streets of Palo Alto. What a mess we are in.

Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 10, 2017 at 1:52 pm

I drive more than I walk, and either way, I am greatly concerned by the number of drivers directing their attention to their phones. Some drivers swerve, some don't get moving when the light turns green, and some may run down pedestrians or cyclists or drive right down the center of the street. Please discourage your friends from using their phones while driving. Thanks.

Posted by Pedestrian
a resident of Meadow Park
on May 10, 2017 at 2:19 pm

Arthur, you are right about pedestrians who seem to think they have an invisible shield or protective angels circling them. I see them downtown, crossing on red lights while engrossed in their cell phones, or j-walking to grab a coffee. They're either completely oblivious or feel entitled to do whatever they want. Fortunately when I do drive to downtown Palo Alto, I specifically look out for all pedestrians, anticipating that they will do something stupid. It would be nice if there was a law enforcement officer, whose beat was downtown, to enforce pedestrian safety rules and prohibit bikes from riding on the sidewalk. Laws are not enforced and so are disregarded.

As a pedestrian who frequently walks from Menlo Park to Palo Alto, I always assume that a car does not see me and will not stop at stop signs or stop lights. I NEVER just step into a crosswalk on a green light, assuming that cars will stop. I wait till traffic has stopped and then proceed. It doesn't matter if I have the right-of-way or not, whether or not I'm the victim - being right is no compensation for pain and suffering, so I have to treat every car at every intersection as a possible death machine. Our laws don't seem to deter drunk, reckless, or distracted drivers.

Pedestrians should view crosswalks more as danger zones than safety zones. I have observed that more than 70% of the time cars blow through stop signs (especially when turning right), only stopping after they've already entered the crosswalk without bothering to look to their right and left for pedestrians. It doesn't really matter if I have the right of way - if I'm hit because of a distracted/reckless driver who is clearly at fault, I will be maimed for life and the driver probably will get off without a fine. I need to look out for number one. It might be a good idea to have two stop sighs at intersections: the first about ten yards before the crosswalk - so the cars will stop BEFORE blowing through the cross walk. The second stop sigh, just before the crosswalk, could remind drivers to look BOTH ways before entering the crosswalk.

I am not trying to blame the elderly couple who were hit. Nothing is sadder to me than people just taking a walk and ending up in the hospital or worse. It's a terrible tragedy. Unfortunately, it is my experience having lived in Palo Alto and Menlo Park most of my life, that the driver gets off without any repercussions, and the if pedestrian survives, will often suffer from the injury for the rest of their life. If they are lucky enough to win a settlement, the money is never enough to compensate for their pain or disability. Pedestrians need to be extra vigilant.

Posted by Jean Libby
a resident of Community Center
on May 10, 2017 at 3:21 pm

Was the driver going south on Middlefield? If so I can tell you from long personal experience that sun in your eyes at that time and location is critical.

Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 10, 2017 at 4:23 pm

Sun az 80 deg, el 20 deg at given date/time. Doubtful that would be a factor.
Winter time is a very different story of course.

Posted by Mike
a resident of Midtown
on May 10, 2017 at 9:45 pm

It wasn't at the intersection but a few houses down. It was a Nissan Leaf

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 11, 2017 at 7:28 am

The article doesn't mention the make of car. If it was a Nissan Leaf, an electric vehicle with a silent engine, this puts another aspect to the incident.

Posted by bemused
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 12, 2017 at 1:02 am

@CrescentParkAnon, re: "So don't believe it the next time you hear some grump going off about bike ridings running stop-signs." There are still a lot of school kids running stop signs. I see it daily at the four way stop at W. Meadow Drive and Wilkie Way. At least the car traffic seems to be aware of it and drivers basically wait until no cyclists are in sight to proceed. A bigger problem is kids who roll up to a stop sign and then turn left in front of a vehicle that was already stopped at the sign before they arrived. I almost hit a child a week or so ago at Loma Verde and Ramona who did exactly this. I had been stopped at the sign for a while to let pedestrian traffic was cross, so I guess he rolled up on my right without me being aware during that time. And then when everything looked clear to me, and I started forward, he popped right out in front of me. I just have no idea where he came from, but he sure wasn't there when I initially approached the intersection. Sometimes I wonder if having crossing guards wave bicycle traffic through at stop signs is maybe giving children the impression that it is safe to do that at all intersections.

Posted by Friend
a resident of Green Acres
on May 12, 2017 at 6:30 am

As longtime friends of the couple, I can assure you they were not engrossed in a cell phone conversation or acting like they had an invisible shield, etc. They are two of the most responsible, loving people you can imagine. They walk for health. This speculation is unhelpful. The only thing we know for sure as longtime residents is that street situation needs to be made safer. Accidents can happen, and they can happen more easily in places like that. Lots of schoolkids cross there. I am heartsick that this has happened. At least, I know as a longtime friend that the accident was not the result of carelessness by the pedestrians.

We are praying for you.

Posted by Saddened Friend
a resident of another community
on May 23, 2017 at 12:01 pm

I am VERY sad to report that the gentleman who was hit by this car never regained consciousness and passed away on Sunday, May 21st after being removed from life support. His wife has MANY broken bones but is alive and in time will hopefully recover physically.

Does anyone know what happened to the driver? I understand that she stayed and cooperated with authorities at the time but what happens now that this incident has resulted in a death? Will she be charged with manslaughter?

Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 23, 2017 at 2:53 pm

Saddened Friend, thank you for the update. I am sorry to hear this terrible
news. I think it is incumbent on the City Of Palo Alto to take some kind of
action to remedy the circumstances of this accident.

A good first step might be for the Palo Alto Online and the City to report
as soon as possible on the particulars of how and why they think this might
have happened.

I do not often walk during peak traffic hours in Palo Alto these days, but
when I do I am surprised at how many cars there are, how fast they are
going, and how distracted and impatient drivers seem. There is a lot to keep
track of and be on the lookout for these days that there did not used to be
in the past.

My sympathies to family and friends of the deceased.

Posted by Friend
a resident of Green Acres
on May 23, 2017 at 3:02 pm

The couple are longtime residents with deep roots in the community and decades of public service and volunteerism. I expect the Weekly is allowing the families to deal with what is unfolding, and I am grateful on their behalf if that is so. This is devastating for everyone who loves them, they were a loving close couple, and bright lights in the lives of those around them. We are all heartbroken and trying to figure out the best way to help the kids who love them to process this and especially how to help his wife.

Posted by Traffic Diets Cost
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on May 23, 2017 at 3:08 pm

Very sad.

Unfortunately, I don't hold out much hope that the City, esp. the Transportation Dept., will do anything useful to prevent another tragedy from happening as gridlock keeps worsening and impatient drivers become less patient. Any time I've asked a question or made a suggestion about a major transportation problem, Mr. Mello (head of Transportation) and the City Council and the city "managers" turn a deaf year.

The City Council will keep pushing for more offices and more housing density. The Transportation Dept will keep coming up with more "traffic diets" that reduce traffic flow and create frustration. And with the School District, they will keep ignoring requests that the shuttles serve the schools to cut gridlock.

Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 23, 2017 at 3:30 pm

One thing that comes to mind for me from driving in Palo Alto is what
can people really do. We are in a situation with respect to traffic and
parking that is difficult to solve. That may be why we don't get to much
change or innovation from the City.

What comes to mind for me is behavior on both sides in general.

1. Pedestrians can help by clearly showing their intent and that they are
alert and engaged with drivers and/or bicyclists.

Pedestrians sometimes stand at the corner or are walking up to an intersection
and do clearly show their intents. A lot of pedestrians walk right through
intersections ( almost every day I see this driving from Middlefield to Alma
in my car. Some stand on the corner as if they are going to cross and do
not, and some walk up to the corner quickly and right into the street as if
the have a shield around them.

Do not make sudden moves or sudden changes of direction when around
the paths of cars.

2. The police should be extra vigilant about cars that do not give pedestrians
a wide right of way. I used to think this was onerous to yield to pedestrians,
but now that I know how taxing it for the pedestrians I always give them
the courtesy of deciding to go or to wave me through. When police see
cars sneaking though a crosswalk in a dangerous way they should enforce
the letter of the law and issue a ticket.

3. Maybe some signs of public support to remind people that pedestrians
have the right of way, and pedestrians should be aware of how they are

Posted by darlene
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on May 24, 2017 at 10:48 am

Very Sad. These folks are old and they cross with caution. Never a cell phone in hand. Driver of car was at fault 100 percent. [Portion removed.] Very sad. Someone lost a Grandpa, life will never be the same for Grandma. Very sad.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 24, 2017 at 11:05 am

I have no idea who was at fault, but perhaps silent EVs are something that all of us have to become more aware of. As Barney said, "first we use our eyes and ears and then we use our feet", but our ears are not always going to help us as much as they used to.

Crossing mid block is unwise unless we are all perfectly certain that there is no traffic.

It is so easy for a distraction in a car and it does not have to be a device, but another person, or even a sneeze or cough.

This is such a sad outcome. I am so sorry to all concerned.

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


Post a comment

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Stay informed.

Get the day's top headlines from Palo Alto Online sent to your inbox in the Express newsletter.

Holiday Fun in San Francisco- Take the Walking Tour for An Evening of Sparkle!
By Laura Stec | 8 comments | 3,421 views

Boichik Bagels is opening its newest – and largest – location in Santa Clara this week
By The Peninsula Foodist | 0 comments | 2,332 views

I Do I Don't: How to build a better marriage Ch. 1, page 1
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,415 views


Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund

For the last 30 years, the Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund has given away almost $10 million to local nonprofits serving children and families. 100% of the funds go directly to local programs. It’s a great way to ensure your charitable donations are working at home.