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Crash into big-rig, car sends man, woman to hospital

Original post made on Jul 23, 2017

A man and a woman were rescued from a sedan that crashed into a parked big-rig and another car in Palo Alto on Saturday night, a fire battalion chief said.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Sunday, July 23, 2017, 9:57 AM

Comments (20)

Posted by David Lipkin
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 23, 2017 at 7:22 pm

It sickens me to hear about this. Anyone who commutes down El Camino knows that that big rig truck has been parked in that spot for several years. It is unbelievably dangerous and this was an accident waiting to happen. I called this in to the city of Palo Alto at least twice, and nothing was done. The city of Palo Alto is responsible for this at least in part; obviously they knew about that truck and have known about it for years. The truck is very wide and every time I pass it, I worry about someone hitting it some day. Feel free to contact me if you need a witness to verify that it has been there for years, but I am sure that thousands of other drivers can do so as well. I also have photos of it there from about two-three years ago.

Posted by resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 24, 2017 at 12:35 pm

One of the car's passengers has passed away. Police have arrested the car driver, Palo Alto resident Vera Shpilman, for DUI and manslaughter. Unfortunate that someone had to die. Hopefully this reckless DUI driver will never drive again. Police press release: Web Link

Posted by Orin Baily
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 24, 2017 at 12:50 pm

So Mr. Lipkin blames a parked big-rig for a vehicular manslaughter caused by drunk driving?

Chances are that if the driver was sober, the big-rig would have been avoided along with any injured passengers and fatalities.

Posted by Bill
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 24, 2017 at 1:36 pm

We believe that the semi truck has been a hazard since the Spring of 2012. The truck looks like a sand hauler. The truck and trailer are quite wide and not well marked. Not sure if anyone verified if the truck sits empty or full. Several residents contacted the Palo Alto Police about it over the years (Agent Green in 2012), but nothing was done.

The truck is parked there most nights after 9:00 PM, but gone by morning. When the topic came up on the Barron Park neighborhood list years ago, someone said the truck owner allowed the truck driver to use the semi for "his own transportation" (as crazy as that sounds).

The truck was, and remains, a safety problem ignored by PAPD.

Posted by Mr. Donut for U
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 24, 2017 at 2:32 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by Resident
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jul 24, 2017 at 2:55 pm

Does she have children at Terman or Gunn? Public white pages shows she lives in an apartment on Arastradero Road. They just lost their "mother" for several years.

Posted by Chris Gaither
a resident of Mayfield
on Jul 24, 2017 at 3:06 pm

Wow, I know these people. Their son resides in affordable housing here in Palo Alto, and he is disabled due to Multiple Sclerosis. The 80 year old who passed away is his mother, and the driver Vera, is his sister. I assume the other passenger is the father. Wow, the two of them and the entire family dedicated their lives to care giving for their son and brother who is in his early 40's. He is an artist. The two of them helped him put on many art exhibits throughout Palo Alto, and East Palo Alto. This is shocking news! I received the Palo Alto Patch thread before reading PA on-line. Such a lesson in life in that we never know what the world will bring, day by day.

So very saddened by this.

Posted by Joe
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 24, 2017 at 3:31 pm

Although the truck was likely parked legally, it wasn't parked safely. El Camino is a state highway, with a speed limit in excess of 25 MPH. That makes a big difference in determining liability. PAPD were informed of the problem over several years and did nothing.

The trucking industry was shielded from liability for years in these kind of cases, but that's no longer the norm. For example, see: Web Link

This is a tragic accident that didn't need to happen.

Posted by Mark Silverman
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 24, 2017 at 4:19 pm

QUOTE: This is a tragic accident that didn't need to happen.

Due to the parked truck or the drunk driver? If you include the truck, then you are disavowing (or possibly overlooking) the fact that an accident such as this could have easily happened without any parked big rig.

The truck wasn't moving or going anywhere. She was. And if she was carrying passengers, why was she driving under the influence?

Posted by resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 24, 2017 at 4:45 pm

A huge truck parked on the side of the road can be a big safety hazard for bicycles trying to keep to the right side of the road, cars trying to merge out of driveways or side streets, or pedestrians in crosswalks behind the truck. In this case, the article says the DUI driver was heading down El Camino and having a hard time staying in one lane. The truck was not the major reason for this fatality.

Posted by Marc Vincenti
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 24, 2017 at 5:20 pm

Condolences to the entire family, from my heart. I live nearby and what a sad thing to have happened. May they find some peace amid all this. I'm very sorry.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 24, 2017 at 5:57 pm

In a case where it is "an accident waiting to happen" the accident when it does happen is often done by someone with impaired abilities of some description.

It doesn't mean the drunk driver wasn't to blame, but it could mean that the parked truck was a menace to traffic and you had to have your wits about you to negotiate the problem.

My own feeling is that "an accident waiting to happen" is the NB merge onto 101 at Embarcardero. If an accident does happen there, I feel sure it would involve someone with inexperience or impairment. It doesn't mean that the merge is OK, it just means that you need all your wits about you to negotiate the problematic merge as well as other traffic.

Posted by Charles Wheatley
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 24, 2017 at 6:06 pm

Anyone blaming a parked truck for this incident is obviously not seeing the big picture as alcohol intoxication or impairment was the key issue at play.

There's no excuse as a weaving automobile driven by an intoxicated driver could have easily hit another car, bicyclist or pedestrian. The fact that she couldn't even avoid hitting a non-moving parked vehicle says a lot.

Best to keep these kinds of drivers off the streets as they are an endangerment to everyone. Next time, take a bus.

Posted by Lt. Col (ret.) Kent Jackson
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 24, 2017 at 6:47 pm

Whenever you suspect a drunk driver alongside you it is often best to drive behind them rather than in front of. Fewer variables in the event of an abrupt acceleration or swerve on their part.

Think of yourself as a fighter pilot remaining on the tail of your enemy. Then call 911 and report the driver to police or the CHP.

Semper fi (to safe driving).

Posted by Angus MacSwan
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 25, 2017 at 12:35 am

Calm down everyone. Of course the drunk driver is at fault...but at the same time this extra large truck is a hazard and should be removed.

Posted by Lorraine
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 25, 2017 at 10:01 pm

So incredibly sad (& disappointing) that my city & my neighbors whom I have always considered open minded & intelligent are consumed with NIMBYism while trying their best (& failing misreably) to disguise it.
Neighbors, if you are against affordable housing, be honest, brave & true to yourself & your family AND own it. Don't hide behind..."I support affordable housing, BUT"?????

Posted by Concerned Neighbor
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 26, 2017 at 8:49 am

When a fatal accident occurs, it is quite often the result of a confluence of factors. A "perfect storm", so to speak.

Here, it appears that the impaired state of the driver may likely have been the "primary" cause of the accident. The police investigation will shed more light on this.

But even if that turns out to be the case, it does not detract from the significant and continuing hazard posed by this truck, which has been a constant presence on this stretch of El Camino for 4-5 years. It is much wider than a typical passenger vehicle, and it takes special care and attention to navigate past it safely each time.

The view that we should "do nothing" because in this particular case the "primary" cause was an impaired driver is dead wrong. Let's save the next life . . .

Posted by PAPD: Can you do something NOW?
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 26, 2017 at 10:01 am


Posted by M. Driscoll
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 26, 2017 at 3:56 pm


Raise your hands. If the truck in question is finally removed along with the errant driver convicted of vehicular manslaughter/DUI and sentenced to prison, will everyone finally be satisfied?

It all seems so cut and dried.

Posted by Long Time Residents
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 26, 2017 at 7:35 pm

My husband and I have seen that truck parked along El Camino Real for years and simply assumed it was related to the company on the corner.
It is an eyesore.
We always wondered why the city, or county turned a blind eye to it.
It really should be parked in a lot designed for big rigs.
We agree with the above posters; please do something.

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