Tag Archives: Berkeley fatality


Berkeley man, 60, falls to his death from Grizzly Peak Blvd

Grizzly Peak Blvd near Signpost 14. Photo: Tracey Taylor
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Update, 1:20 p.m.: The victim has been identified by the Alameda County Coroner’s Bureau as Donald Terrence Odwyer, 60, of Berkeley. UCPD Lt. Marc DeCoulode said witnesses saw Odwyer walking then falling on Grizzly Peak Blvd Sunday. They called emergency services at 8:24 p.m. Moraga and Orinda Fire Department responded. UCPD arrived on scene at 9:45 p.m. after jurisdiction was established. The incident happened on UC Berkeley property. Odwyer was pronounced dead at the scene. 

Original story: A 60-year-old Berkeley man died after falling from a look-out spot on Grizzly Peak Boulevard on the evening of Sunday, Aug. 17, according to UC Berkeley Police. … Continue reading »

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Man dies after falling ill at Ashby BART in Berkeley

A man died earlier this week after passing out at the Ashby BART station. Photo: Michael Patrick
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Update, Aug. 15, 4:30 p.m. Authorities have identified the man who died after having health complications at the Ashby BART station Tuesday as 54-year-old Keith Golson of Berkeley.

Original story, Aug. 14, 1 p.m. A man died this week after passing out at the Ashby BART station in South Berkeley, authorities reported Wednesday.

The incident took place just before 11:15 p.m. Tuesday, according to BART.

Tuesday night, the Berkeley Fire Department responded to the west lot of the Ashby BART station for a report of a sick man who had passed out. … Continue reading »

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Driver charged in vehicular manslaughter of Berkeley man is ‘legally blind’

Joseph Luft. Courtesy: Luft family
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Update, Aug. 7: The Alameda County district attorney’s office has increased the vehicular manslaughter charge against Robert Gilchrist to a felony, according to court papers dated Aug. 7. See the complaint here. Authorities say Gilchrist struck and killed a 98-year-old pedestrian while driving in Berkeley in April.

Original story, Aug. 4: The driver charged with killing a 98-year-old former psychology professor on his daily walk in Berkeley in April had no license and told police he is “legally blind,” according to court papers that became available last week.

Robert Jack Gilchrist, 56, was charged by the Alameda County district attorney’s office July 31 with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter and driving without a license, also a misdemeanor.

Vehicular manslaughter involves driving “in an unlawful manner, but without gross negligence,” according to court papers.

Authorities say Gilchrist, of Oakland, hit the 98-year-old Berkeley man as he walked in a crosswalk on Sacramento Street at Bancroft Way on April 4. … Continue reading »

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Body of man found off Grizzly Peak Boulevard

Look out at Signpost 15 on Grizzly Peak Boulevard
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Update 11 a.m.: The Alameda County coroner’s office has identified the man as Lorenzo Baltazar-Trujillo, 22, of Concord.

Original story: UC Berkeley police are investigating the death of a man who may have fallen to his death Sunday while admiring a view of San Francisco Bay from Grizzly Peak Boulevard.

A hiker spotted the man’s body around 2:26 p.m. and called the police, according to Sgt. Rick Florendo of the UC Berkeley Police Department. The Oakland Fire Department pronounced the man dead at the scene.

The victim many have fallen 100 feet from a rocky outcropping that looks out at a view of San Francisco Bay. Police had put yellow police tape Sunday evening around a white car that was parked near the scene at Signpost 15 on Grizzly Peak Blvd. … Continue reading »

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Car strikes and kills 98-year-old pedestrian in Berkeley

Joseph Luft. Courtesy: Luft family
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A 98-year-old man was struck by a car Friday afternoon while crossing the intersection of Bancroft Way and Sacramento Street. He later died of his injuries.

Berkeley police said the man was struck around 12:23 p.m.

He was conscious and talking when police arrived, but he died at the hospital around 6 p.m., according to Berkeley Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats.

The Alameda County coroner’s office identified him as Joseph Luft of Berkeley.

The driver is cooperating with police, Coats said in a press release. It does not appear that drugs or alcohol were factors in the collision, she said.

Luft, a psychologist, was the creator of the Johari Window, a technique he and Harry Ingrahm invented in 1955 to help people better understand their relationship with others. He taught at San Francisco State University for more than 20 years.

The Luft family released a statement Saturday stating that Joseph Luft was a World War II veteran, “a proud father of four and beloved local figure,” who had taken a daily walk for more than 50 years. … Continue reading »

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Potentially hazardous chemical suicide in Berkeley called for collaborative response, cautious approach

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The death by chemical suicide earlier this week of a former UC Berkeley professor left many in the community reeling with disbelief.

Berkeleyside’s revelation that the person found dead in a room at the Berkeley City Club was Sydney Kustu, who killed herself on her 71st birthday using a potentially deadly chemical called sodium azide, was shocking to those who had known her, including neighbors and friends who remembered her as “friendly,” “kind” and “generous.” The nature of the death was also so unusual that it prompted many who had not known her to take pause. … Continue reading »

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Chemical suicide victim was UC Berkeley professor

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The woman who committed suicide using a toxic chemical on Tuesday at the Berkeley City Club, prompting a hazardous materials evacuation, was a former professor at UC Berkeley. She killed herself on her 71st birthday.

Sydney Kustu was a professor emerita in plant and microbial biology at Cal’s College of Natural Resources and a member of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences. She was born March 18, 1943, according to an official at the Alameda County coroner’s office, who said Kustu was a Berkeley resident.

Kustu was found deceased in a room at the City Club by a maid, according to an employee of the club, which also operates as a hotel. She had left notes for authorities warning them about the dangerous substance, according to the staffer. … Continue reading »

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Elderly woman commits suicide with toxic chemical at Berkeley City Club, leaves note to warn authorities

Berkeley Women's City Club, 2315 Durant Ave, Berkeley, CA
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UPDATE, March 19: Authorities identified the woman who was found dead at the Berkeley City Club on Tuesday as 71-year-old Sydney Kustu. Read more about Kustu in Berkeleyside’s follow-up story, published Wednesday.

UPDATE, 9:10 p.m.: The person who committed suicide today at the Berkeley City Club was an 80-year-old woman who killed herself in her room using sodium azide, according to the Oakland Tribune. The woman lived in an apartment on the third floor of the landmark building, police officer Ethell Wilson said. The Tribune also reported that the woman left a note warning authorities of the dangerous situation. Sodium azide, a colorless salt, is the gas-forming component in many car airbag systems. When mixed with water it is acutely toxic. … Continue reading »

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Person hit, killed by freight train on tracks in Berkeley

The Union Pacific freight train that struck a pedestrian today was still stationary on the tracks at around noon. Photo: Bryan Westfall
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Update, March 18: The Alameda County Coroner’s Bureau has identified the man who was struck and killed by the train as Matthew Finch, 28, of El Cerrito, according to the Bay City News.

Original story: A man was struck and killed by a Union Pacific freight train Monday in Berkeley on the train tracks just south of Harrison Street near the Berkeley-Albany border, authorities said.

The person, believed to be an adult male, was pronounced dead at the scene, according to Berkeley Deputy Fire Chief Avery Webb.

The train, which was headed from Roseville to Oakland, was still stationary on the tracks at around midday, according to Berkeleyside reader Bryan Westfall, who said the front of the engine was located just behind Books Inc. on Berkeley’s Fourth Street.

BFD first received a call about a south-bound train striking a pedestrian at 9:06 a.m. on Monday March 17 at the northernmost part of Berkeley near the grass soccer fields south of Harrison Street. An ambulance, fire engine and the duty fire chief responded. … Continue reading »

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Construction company fined $23K after employee death

A Cal/OSHA inspector speaks with members of the Berkeley Police Department and Berkeley Unified School District during a fatality investigation involving a construction worker at King Middle School on Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 27, 2013. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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The San Jose-based construction company that employed a man killed during a work-related accident last August in Berkeley has been fined more than $20,000 for two related safety violations authorities said led to the man’s death.

The state Division of Occupational Safety & Health, OSHA, concluded its five-month investigation into the man’s death Jan. 30, Berkeleyside learned Wednesday.

OSHA issued two citations totaling $23,200 to the Robert A. Bothman Construction in connection with the alleged safety violations, which include not keeping under “positive control” the three-axle dump truck that crushed 62-year-old Oscar Marquez of Livermore on Aug. 27 while he was working on the Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School track renovation project. … Continue reading »

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Man found dead in Berkeley’s Codornices Park

Codornices. Photo: scarlatti2004
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A man was found dead in Codornices Park on Sunday after being discovered by a person walking through the North Berkeley park.

Berkeley Police say they received a call at around 1 p.m. on Jan. 19 of a “possible deceased subject” in Codornices Park. The caller reported finding a man who appeared to be sleeping, according to Berkeley Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats. The caller attempted to check on him, but he was unresponsive. … Continue reading »

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Breaking: Police investigate possible suicide on Milvia

Police are investigating a possible suicide in an apartment near Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto. Photo: Tracey Taylor
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Berkeley Police are on the scene in the 1600 block of Milvia Street following a 911 call about a loud report at 12:34 p.m., authorities said.

“We have folks out there investigating now,” said Berkeley Police Lt. Andrew Rateaver shortly before 2 p.m.

Berkeley Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats said at about 2:05 p.m. that police are investigating the incident on Milvia as a possible suicide. She said there had been one confirmed fatality. … Continue reading »

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Man rescued from home fire on Ward Street dies

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The man rescued by the Berkeley Fire Department from his burning home at 1716 Ward St. on Aug. 28 died in a San Francisco hospital six days later, on Sept. 3, according to authorities.

The San Francisco Office of the Chief Medical Examiner confirmed Wednesday that James Owsley, 58, died Sept. 3. A representative said the cause of death is still pending.

Owsley was taken from his home on the night of Wednesday Aug. 28 to Alta Bates Hospital by the Berkeley Fire Department, and was later transferred to the burn unit at St. Francis Memorial Hospital in San Francisco.

Berkeley Deputy Fire Chief Avery Webb said the cause of the two-alarm fire, which began shortly after 8 p.m on Aug. 28, has yet to be determined.

Firefighters rescued Owsley, who was unconscious, from the rear of the building. Speaking shortly after the fire, Fire Chief Gil Dong said there was a flashover in one of the rooms while firefighters were conducting the rescue. No firefighters were injured during the incident. … Continue reading »

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