News Brief

Car strikes tree in central Berkeley kills one, injures two

The accident happened on California just north of Allston Way

Update, 11:32 am: All three of the occupants of the Cadillac are currently Berkeley residents, according to new information released by BPD.

The male driver and the child remain in the hospital.

Very preliminary evidence suggests the Cadillac was travelling northbound on California Street when it struck the roundabout in the intersection of Allston Way, then collided with the tree on the eastside of California Street, just north of Allston Way. BDP writes: “These turnabouts, roundabouts, traffic circles are intended to be traffic calming features. There have been collisions periodically at these features around the City of Berkeley and yet, the number is not remarkable enough to suggest that they are the significant issue in this collision. Impairment of the driver is always a part of these types of investigations.” See City Report on fatal accidents in Berkeley since 1984.

Update, 8:55 am: A young woman in her 20s died in the crash. She was a passenger in the car that was being driven by a man, also believed to be in his 20s, and there was a child in the back seat, according to media reports. The car, a Cadillac with a Compton registration is believed to have been traveling at high speed before its careered into a tree on California. The car was severely mangled and it proved hard to extricate the people inside, according to BPD spokesperson Sgt Mary Kusmiss. “It was a challenge for both patrol officers and the fire department to get the individuals out of the car. The officers and fire department did some heroic work to get them out,” she told KTVU who published a photograph of the wreck.

Original story: On Friday May 18, at about 1:13 a.m, a car with one driver and two passengers struck a tree at California Street and Allston Way. One of the occupants of the car was pronounced dead at the scene, while two other occupants were transported to local hospital trauma units with serious injuries.

City of Berkeley Police Department patrol officers responded to a collision on California Street and Allston Way and found the car on California Street just north of Allston Way. City of Berkeley Fire Department personnel responded as well.

The BPD FAIT (Fatal Accident Collision Team) was on scene has started its investigation.

BPD is not releasing the names or ages of the occupants of the car out of respect for their families.

This is the second fatal collision of 2012. On January 30, 2012, a car struck a young man on a skateboard at Marin and Tulare in North Berkeley. The skateboarder dies as a result of his injuries.

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  • The Sharkey

    Sad. An easily-avoidable tragedy.

  • Greg


    Thank you for your post.

    While we probably don’t agree on what is an acceptable level of speculation in a forum such as this one (or at least what is the expected level of speculation), we likely do agree that those who partake in it should acknowledge it for what it is.

    Speculation is speculation regardless of whether or not it is ultimately found to be accurate.

    And for a bit of my own speculation:

    If it is any consolation those who are engaging in insensitive speculation today are among the most likely to proclaim themselves aggrieved and offended tomorrow.  While it may seem trivial compared to what they potentially inflict upon those directly connected to the stories here many of them seem to think it real (and valid).  Maybe that is enough?

  • Susan Solomon

    This is going to introduce a really wild card, but here goes. I’ve been reading Gordon’s thoughts and it occurred to me to call a psychic friend of mine about all this. Before you groan, let me add that this person is a tenured PhD at one of the finest universities in the country, who has recently written an acclaimed book NOT on the subject of psychic phenomena or anything like that.

    The first word she got in her little dictionary for the cause of the accident was ‘circuit breaker.’ The second was a phrase – ‘car related.’ To summarize, she said the subject of alcohol might be a bit of a red herring. The fact that the driver had a ‘clean driving record,’ according to the story, does support the idea that something might have gone wrong with the car. I hope the police closely examine the car, despite the alcohol evidence, because two things can happen at once.

  • Susan Solomon

    To be honest about alcohol abuse – is that almost any drinking constitutes abuse in my opinion. Alcohol is specifically used to get soldiers to kill and/or to forget what they’ve done during battle. It’s also used to lower one’s own and one’s partners inhibitions so as to engage in basically unwelcome/unwise sex. Even one glass of wine can so change and loosen one’s behavior that I don’t think it’s too much to say many, many accidents are probably caused by people who’ve drunk less than the legal limit. Alcohol also makes people terribly sick, routinely, and that’s treated as a joke.

    However, alcohol is universally legal and encouraged in this society, while more mature choices such as marijuana, (that research shows tends to slow down driving and increase caution) are surrounded by myths, outright lies, persecution and long prison sentences. Not that one should need any drug – but if alcohol is so legal and encouraged, then face it – you’d better turn your lack of compassion toward the society that basically causes deaths, both accidental and purposeful – by doling out alcohol as if it were vitamins.

    And once again – I hope the police examine that car, because this driver did have a clean driving record, and the accident does seem a bit odd, regardless.

  • Greg


    My thanks were sincere, but please ignore the little outburst at the end.  It was uncalled for, and I regret it already.

  • bgal4

     what? not sure what you are trying to say here.

    I will share I worked as a community volunteer for 7 years on the Berkeley Alcohol Policy Advocacy Coalition drafting environment prevention policies and providing UCB and CoB with the tools to reduce the harm caused by alcohol abuses through proper regulations. They did not implement the program correctly. 

  • bgal4

     Your right, GROAN loudly.

  • Heather_W_62

    Not sure how you could call alcohol a red herring here. It was clearly the cause of the driver’s impairment. I’m sure the police will closely examine the car, and even if they find some mechanical error, the fact is the guy was drunk. Drunk drivers kill people all the time. That’s fact. It doesn’t take a psychic or a Ph.D. to figure that out. 

  • Darwin

    You are a flaming idiot.  One drink?  Really, you do make me laugh.  While it is true most people do not get stoned and go kill people, your assertion that marijuana use makes drivers more cautious is ludicrous.  I have stopped many people who were high as kites and were driving very recklessly.  You do Berkeley proud so keep on.  And before I go, your last comment about hoping they examine the car because he had a clean driving record and the accident seemed odd made for wonderful levity.  If you have not learned by now, the driver was very intoxicated and caused the death of the woman and child.  I know you just want to forgive that because he did not mean to, right?

  • Nate gleason

    I live just down the block. There was a girl who just graduated from CAL and her boyfriend and a baby. It happened early in the morning. The driver was drunk and they hit the traffic circle going about 60 miles per hour. The woman died and the baby is in a comma right now. That’s what really happen.

  • Nate gleason

    The boyfriend was driving. I don’t know what happen to him.

  • Charles_Siegel

     Initially, the plan was that the circles would replace the stop signs.  But neighbors objeccted to removing the stop signs, and the city never got around to doing it.  That is why we have the combination of circles plus stop signs.

  • Charles_Siegel

     There was actually a city-wide plan in the 1970s that put in all those bollard diverters.  That was long before Bike boulevards, speed humps, and traffic circles.

    Bike boulevards have not added any new bollards. Actually, they have not added anything much except bike boulevard signs and pavement markings.  Apart from signage, the one improvement is the bike light at Channing and MLK.