21-year-old arrested in felony hit-and-run car wreck

A mangled Corvette involved in an early morning accident on Tunnel Road in Berkeley. Photo:   Jacquelyn McCormick7:08 AM (3 minutes ago)

A mangled Corvette that was involved in an early morning accident on Tunnel Road in Berkeley. Photo: Jacquelyn McCormick

Update: 4:22 p.m. The driver of the smashed Corvette is Anthony Edward Torpey, 21, of Dublin, Castro Valley, according to Officer Jenn Coats, Berkeley Police spokeswoman. He was arrested at 3:52 a.m. and was taken to Berkeley Jail, where he is being held on $91,200 bail, according to police records. In addition to being held on a DUI charge and a felony hit-and-run charge, he was arrested on suspicion of driving with a suspended license.

The 24-year-old passenger is in critical condition, said Coats.

Torpey was previously arrested in December 2012 after a crash in Dublin, according to police records.

According to Torpey’s Facebook page, the Corvette appears to be his. In a photo of the car posted on June 11, he wrote “hard work pays off” as well as “My Main Girl.”

Update, 11:37 a.m.: Tunnel Road is now open in all directions, according to Berkeley Police. The investigation into the crash continues.

Update: 7:45 a.m. The Berkeley Police Department arrested the driver of the Corvette, a 21-year-old man, on suspicion of felony hit and run, driving under the influence and other charges, according to Officer Jennifer Coats, department spokeswoman.

The driver, whose name has not been released, fled the scene of the 2:22 a.m. accident on Tunnel, leaving his seriously injured passenger, a 24-year-old male, behind in the car, according to Coats, Berkeley police later found and arrested the driver.

The passenger “sustained significant injuries” during the collision.

Photo: Jacquelyn McCormick

Photo: Jacquelyn McCormick

The eastbound direction of Tunnel Road will remain closed for another few hours, said Coats.

Update: 7:08 a.m. Tunnel Road is open in the westbound direction but remains closed in the eastbound direction.

Original story: Berkeley Police advise motorists to avoid Tunnel Road near Alvarado and The Uplands in Berkeley this morning. There was a serious solo car accident around 2:22 a.m. that shut the road in both directions. An occupant was seriously injured, according to a Nixle alert issued by the police.

According to KTVU news, a Corvette crashed and the driver left the scene. Police arrived to find one seriously injured passenger. Police later located the driver and are investigating to see whether excessive speed or alcohol was a factor in the accident.

Photo: Daryl Austern

Photo: Daryl Austern

The police alert said: “The passenger in the vehicle sustained significant injuries and was transported by the Berkeley Fire Department to a local hospital for treatment. Due to the seriousness of the passenger’s injuries  BPD’s Fatal Accident Investigation Team (FAIT) has been called in to handle the investigation.”

At least one TV news helicopter was over the crash scene for about 30 minutes at around 7 a.m Friday morning.

AC Transit is temporarily relocating a stop for the E-line bus because of the accident.

Berkeleyside will update this story when we gather new information.

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  • andrew johnson

    If the Berkeley City Council wanted to take on a serious issue that impacts quality of life, they could ban loud news helicopters from hovering over crime/traffic scenes. Let KTTVU et al send up radio-controlled drones with cameras, instead. They would get better images and spare the residents the aggravating noise.

  • Owen Thomas

    Good call!

  • ilovesouthberkeley

    Hope the guy gets better. Thanks for including the helicopter information Berkeley. I live a couple of miles away from there, but heard a helicopter early this morning on it’s way in or out and was wondering what was happening. I value freedom of the press and information and all, and would want the news teams to be able to use some sort of aerial photography in the event of some sort of major disturbance/event where an aerial view was needed to get the story, but the recent frequency of helicopters just to take a picture of an accident or crime scene after the fact does not seem to warrant disturbing the peace of so many homes. I’m sure it’s fun to hang out in the helicopter and all, but hopefully KTVU (it’s that’s who it was again) can rethink it’s polices on the helicopter in the interest of being a better neighbor.

  • andrew johnson

    I can see it now – Council holds a vote on loud helicopters, which gets covered live by loud helicopters… breaking news, and all, you know.

    We get this noise all too frequently, with the Oakland crime that’s spilling over to the southern border in Berkeley. And remember the tree-sitters at Memorial Stadium, covered non-stop by helicopter news crews and BPD choppers as well. The noise is insidious, pervasive, and disrupting.

  • gskalx

    Agreed. Helicopters are much too frequent and linger with their noise pollution. I don’t think it contributes to news to have a distant aerial shot of these accidents, especially if there are photographers on the ground.

  • Jake

    A.J. . . .is this really the most relevant comment you can make? People were hurt in a very serious accident and you are mostly concerned with the ‘aggravation’ of a little noise from a helicopter. I live in this neighborhood too, and what concerns me more than your precious beauty sleep is the safety of our streets, and the fact that a seriously injured passenger was selfishly abandoned by the driver of this car. Do you ever think of anyone besides yourself?

  • Chris J

    Yah, life in our town. It’s pretty loud at times, and those damn fire engines screaming their sirens! Don’t get me started on ambulances and police responding to crime.

    Yes, that was sarcasm.

  • choppers_suck

    Actually, news helicopters are a big problem. Every little thing that happens, especially on a slow news day, and they send out the freakin chopper that hovers over head for an hour. I’m not the only one who’s really tired of it.

    And Jake, the news helicopter isn’t there to improve safety one bit. They are there to capitalize on the situation for content, which draws viewers and sells advertising. They are worse than rubber-neckers, actually making a buck off the situation. And the 1000’s of people they wake up are just externalities that they don’t have to carry on their bottom line.

  • ilovesouthberkeley

    The helicopter was not helping the injured person or increasing road safety. It was flying around hours after an event, to get photos of what? I don’t think “little” noise is accurate, the other day I had to stay on mute for an entire conference call for work so as not to disturb the other participants on the phone call with all the helicopter noise, and I didn’t live near that accident either. Certainly if it were a police or medical helicopter, or the helicopter were doing something useful, this would have been totally worth it, no question at all, but I wonder how useful the news helicopter is in situations like this, it doesn’t seem worth it just to take a photo of an intersection after something has happened there.

  • andrew johnson

    J… the news helicopter coverage was completely unnecessary – the injured party had long since been transported to the hospital for care, and the driver of the cage taken into police custody. All that was left, and what the helicopters were filming, was a smashed cage being tended to by BPD and wreckers. Noise pollution is a well-documented source of irritation and unrest.

  • Charles_Siegel

    I am all for reducing helicopter noise, but I don’t think the city has any legal power to regulate aircraft flying over the city. I think that regulatory power has been preempted by the federal government.

    I wish some councilmembers would take the lead by asking TV channels to limit the amount of time that they use helicopters and by threatening a class-action suit if they do not.

    The helicopters hover right over residential neighborhoods for many hours to get a few minutes of footage.

  • editor?

    article title missing the word “old”

  • Drones, in Berkeley? I think that drones give rise to more opposition in
    Berkeley than do helicopters. Also, the City of Berkeley has no legal
    ability to limit or control the use of helicopters (or drones, for that
    matter — see the comment from Councilmember Wozniak in http://www.berkeleyside.com/2012/12/19/berkeley-rejects-idea-of-making-city-a-no-drone-zone/
    ), since this issue is within the jurisdiction of the FAA. The County
    of Los Angeles had Senator Feinstein (and other legislators) attach a
    measure to the budget bill approved back in January that requires the
    FAA to study the issue of helicopter safety and noise for LA County, but
    that measure has not met with universal approval in LA (see http://www.dailynews.com/environment-and-nature/20140120/new-helicopter-noise-legislation-draws-complaints ).

  • Thanks “editor?” We’ve fixed it now.

  • guest

    When I used to live in Albany, I was regularly awakened by a traffic copter that would hover near Albany Hill for about half an hour, starting at about 6am. I lived about 1/2 a mile away. That thing must have awakened thousands of people daily. Sleep is hard enough to get without the pucka-pucka-pucka.

  • batardo

    A class-action small claims suit might get KTVU’s attention. This tactic has been used to bring absentee landlords and blighted property owners to account. Anybody who has been woken up or unable to complete their work or other activities has a tangible claim.

    The city might not be able to trump FAA jurisdiction but to the extent that the actions of the news organizations exceeds reasonable use there could easily be hundreds if not thousands of people that would sign on to this. I would.

  • L. Lorenz

    This wasn’t a aggravation from a little noise from a helicopter… It was like a jackhammer right outside my window.It was right over my house. Prayers to the injured, but this helicopter was flying lower than what I have seen others fly around Berkeley. Perhaps the air quality made the sound waves seem louder, but this was extreme. And the fact that it was at 6:30 made it even more intrusive. Not being selfish; this was extreme for all the other points mentioned as well.

  • sumstupidbklytaxpayer

    Hope Jake’s day has improved.

    I know NOTHING about this incident, but pass through the location at least once/day. This has in my eyes been an accident trying to happen for a very long time. Tunnel is a major escape (commute) route in the evening, as well as carrying a fair amount of traffic down the hill. To complicate matters, some individuals deem it convenient to cut over from 24 and snake up the hill on Roanoake and Uplands to access 13. Several of these people seem hurried, as they ignore stop signs all along the way. The worst is when they force their way into traffic on Tunnel. The less offensive trick is to jump into traffic headed East. The worst is those who lose patience with the traffic and unsafely insert themselves into harm’s way, making an unsafe left turn down the hill, often in 2 stages. They literally plant themselves in the intersection. An island would help curb this activity, but that’s not happening.

    I hvae no basis for claiming that today’s incident is related to these concerns, but I hope this draws more attention from the city to a very unsafe instersection.

  • oldapeman

    Is there a reason to omit the identity of the driver charged by the authorities? It is part of the public record, and we are entitled to know.

  • EBGuy

    Interesting. Did you see that the National Park Service just banned radio controlled planes and helicopters (aka UAVs, aka drones)?

  • Acce

    Wake up Justin. Our prayers go to you and ur family.

  • Maggie mae

    Some ones life is on the line and you are all concerned about the noise.

  • JW

    Makes no sense not to identify the pusillanimous driver.

  • JW

    From SFGate:

    “Anthony Torpey, 21, of Dublin, who had been driving, fled the crash but was found
    nearby and arrested on suspicion of drunken driving, hit and run,
    battery on an officer and driving on a suspended license, authorities
    said. He was being held at Berkeley City Jail in lieu of $91,200 bail.

    Torpey was previously involved in a crash in Dublin in 2012 and has a number
    of driving convictions on his record, including disobeying a traffic
    signal, a seat-belt violation, speeding, reckless driving and hit and
    run, according to the state Department of Motor Vehicles.”

    Sounds like a real prince.

  • Bonnie & Clyde


    the miscreant has learned – from prior experience – that “probation” is the preferred way for “deterrence” to be meted out

    and thus acted accordingly………


  • disparu

    Assuming he’s guilty as charged I believe the punishment in this case should include permanent revocation of his drivers license. He should also be blacklisted for auto insurance nationwide. It’s time to put a stop to all this irresponsible driving nonsense. Moreover, our drivers tests are too easy to pass and should be brought up to UK or Gernan standards. The fee should be comparable too. If you agree, please write your Assembly person and Senator with copy to the Governor.

  • batardo

    I think we can have it both ways, no?

  • thomas Jr.

    The passenger nearly died as a result of a drunk driver, and people are commenting passionately about the noise from helicopter. WTF is wrong with you people?

  • guest

    You would understand If you lived in Berkeley and had the experience of listening to four media helicopters hovering right above your head for 12 hours a day for four or five days in a row, because students are occuping a UC building and they are waiting to get some sensationalistic footage.

    The endless noise is a major problem. The media are like vultures, who descend on any sensational news story in order to attract viewers.

  • Shutter

    Put him in Folsom Prison for ten years.

  • Doug F

    In the standard most severe crash test (35mph into an offset solid vertical barrier), the front end collapses a lot on one side but doesn’t come apart like that (‘cept Chinese cars). Looks like at least 60mph at a glancing impact into a wall to me…in a 25 zone. Probably more. Plus, he abandoned his badly injured friend, rashly imagining he could avoid a DUI when the car’s in his name. After he gets out of being somebody else’s Main Girl for many years at San Quentin, time for a lifetime ban on operating anything with an engine.

  • Guest

    You have just said that this guy deserves to be raped and enslaved as a punishment for his offense. No doubt you had a nice giggle when you wrote it, but I don’t think that it was at all clever or original, nor does it tend to increase one’s regard for your notions of justice. Although common on sites like the SF chronicle, comments like yours are rather jarring on Berkeleyside (editors take note).

  • JW

    You don’t think he should do serious time in prison (and all that involves) for almost killing someone, leaving the scene of an accident, driving under the influence, assaulting a police officer and a number of other offenses? Are you a friend of the driver, perchance?

  • Guest

    Where did I say that? I pointed out that rape and sex slavery don’t seem like an appropriate punishment for his offense. Do you disagree, or does your “…and all that involves” indicate your approval of rape and slavery?

  • Guest

    You make it sound like our prisons are filled with degenerate, violent criminals. I thought they were one or more of: political prisoners, victims of a racist police/judical system, just trying to feed their families anyway they could, locked up for having “one joint” on them. Shouldn’t they be paroled or, better yet, just get rid of the prisons altogether like Angela Davis advocates for?

  • Maggie Mae

    The passenger is still in the hospital and just had breathing tube removed yet still not awake and they do not know if he will be the same if by chance he recovers. I hope the driver feels some remorse for this accident but, when you leave someone after a horrific crash you got to wonder if he even cares!

  • Get it?

    In your eagerness to make some point (although it is not clear what that point is) you failed to carefully read the string. Doug F stated “After he gets out of being somebody else’s Main Girl for many years at San Quentin…”. What do you think that means? I think that it means that Doug F hopes that the driver in this accident gets raped in prison and turned into somebody’s sex slave. I am not commenting on the probability of that happening, I am commenting on Doug F’s morality.

  • Got it!

    In another illustration of Poe’s law, you don’t seem to get the idea that Guest was being ironic.

    Guest was criticizing people who believe that the prisons are filled with victims of injustice rather than with violent criminals, and that we should just get rid of the prisons.

  • Guest


    You didn’t finish your thought there. Your post does imply that you would consider rape and sex slavery a just punishment for this guy. Would you like to come right out and say that? To me it seems like a cruel and barbaric measure that is entirely out of proportion to the offense. Perhaps to you it seems appropriate. If so, tell us why.

  • Babette Spears

    really i cannot believe that the discussion here is a debate about the comment on prisoners being raped and enslaved in prison. all of you should be ashamed of yourselves really there is someone who has been critically injured here ! a young man that may never have the same quality of life he once had . and nothing is being said about how terribly tragic that is ! really people everyone is entitled to there opinion and if that opinion offends anybody then they have no business even reading newspapers or any other type of news, that young man that was injured was someones son , brother or even someones father. maybe we should all send our prayers to this family instead of taking offense to someones opinion on a comment that was made in regard to what they think should happen to the driver . where is our compassion at people . my prayers and thoughts go out to this young man and his family.



  • emraguso