Tag Archives: Berkeley fatality

BART promotes suicide prevention line as incidents spike

Mental health advocate Kevin Hines speaks in front of the new BART signage listing the Suicide Lifeline Number. Photo: Seung Y. Lee
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BART hosted a press conference in its downtown Berkeley station Tuesday to announce a new campaign to combat a recent spike in suicides on its train tracks. By mid-March, there had already been six crashes and five fatalities, the agency reported.

Last year, there were 14 crashes involving BART, including several incidents at the North Berkeley and downtown Berkeley stations. One incident in downtown Berkeley in November — the eighth and final BART-related fatality of 2014 — killed a UC Berkeley student. In 2013, there were six crashes, five of which were fatal.

The main feature of the campaign is station signage promoting the toll-free National Suicide Lifeline, alerting possible troubled patrons that “suicide is not the route.” The number, 800-273-TALK, directs callers to around-the-clock free, confidential counseling from suicide prevention centers in Alameda, Contra Costa and San Francisco counties.  … Continue reading »

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Police

Exclusive: 23-minute delay for paramedics during Berkeley protests, patient later died

A resident of this building died after a paramedics were delayed from responding to his medical crisis on the second night of Berkeley's recent protests. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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They were just two minutes away, but it took paramedics 27 minutes during the Berkeley protests in December to reach a patient who later died, according to documents obtained by Berkeleyside under a Public Records Act request.

For 23 of those minutes, paramedics were waiting for a police escort, as per a standing city protocol, to ensure they could avoid the protests Dec. 7 and reach the man safely after he collapsed and struggled to breathe in a large affordable housing complex downtown. The Berkeley Fire Department’s average response time is 5.5 minutes.

Read complete Berkeleyside coverage of the protests

The response time was so delayed that a Berkeley paramedic was required by law to file an “Unusual Occurrence” form with Alameda County. Paramedic supervisor Rachel Valenzuela filed the form Dec. 9, less than two days after the Dec. 7 call on Kittredge. The form indicated that patient care had been affected during the call, and replied in the affirmative to the question of “Could this event cause a community reaction or represent a threat to public safety?” Berkeley Fire Chief Gil Dong said Tuesday he could not clarify what “this event” referred to, but said the addendum to the form provided additional detail.

Nearly all medical information was redacted from the documents, but they did reveal that three paramedics provided advanced life support to the man during his 8-minute journey to the hospital, where he arrived about 52 minutes after dispatchers first received a 911 call about his condition.

The Alameda County coroner’s office identified the man Thursday as Alvin Henry Jones Jr., a 63-year-old Berkeley resident who died of natural causes. According to the coroner’s office, Jones died Dec. 9 at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Berkeley. Jones reportedly is survived by a sister who lives in New York, but Berkeleyside was unable to locate her prior to publication. … Continue reading »

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Update: Man found dead in Berkeley was Gary Skupa, 70

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Update, Feb. 2, 12:25 p.m. The man found deceased on West Street was 70-year-old Gary Skupa, according to a close friend of his who asked to remain anonymous. Skupa was a native of Colorado, a long-time Berkeley resident and activist, and a volunteer and board member of Ashkenaz Music & Dance Community Center on San Pablo Avenue. Authorities said they were unable to confirm the identity at this point. Asked why the case was first described as “suspicious,” Berkeley Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats said: “Initially, the investigation was classified as suspicious because it appears the victim passed away, unattended in a public area. We have to gather as much information as possible to try and determine what may have occurred.  It appears the victim may have been riding his bicycle and collapsed.  This is not a ‘murder’ investigation, it is a death investigation.”

Original story: The body of a man was found on West Street near Delaware on Sunday afternoon. Berkeley Police are classifying it as a suspicious death.

“We received a call of a person down, BFD responded and the male victim was pronounced deceased,” Berkeley Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats told Berkeleyside.

The call came in around 4:30 p.m., Officer Coats said. There did not appear to be any sign of foul play. … Continue reading »

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Police

Breaking: Berkeley cyclist dies after hit and run

Michael Lake. Photo: Courtesy of family
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A Berkeley cyclist has died following a hit-and-run crash with a car earlier this month on University Avenue, authorities said Tuesday.

The driver in that incident left the scene, and police are continuing to investigate the collision as a hit and run.

The Alameda County coroner’s office identified the man Tuesday as 64-year-old Michael Lake of Berkeley.

He died at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center at 9:05 p.m. Monday.

A family member, Gwendolyn West, told Berkeleyside that Lake died Monday night “after being moved into post-hip-surgery rehabilitation.” … Continue reading »

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Police

Cyclist seriously injured in Berkeley hit-and-run

Paramedics placed a man onto a gurney at the scene of a hit-and-run accident at University and McGee avenues, in Berkeley, on Tuesday, Jan. 13. The victim was riding a bicycle. Photo: David Yee
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A cyclist remains in the hospital with serious injuries after he was struck by a driver who left the scene in Berkeley on Tuesday night.

Police have released minimal details about the incident.

Berkeley Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats said the accident took place just before 6:45 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 13, on University Avenue at McGee Avenue.

Coats said by email that dispatchers received calls about an injury collision involving a vehicle and cyclist, as well as reports that the driver had fled the scene.

The bicyclist suffered serious injuries and was still in the hospital as of about 7 p.m. Wednesday. … Continue reading »

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Police

Berkeley Police Q&A: Tear gas use, protest costs, more

Photo, taken on Dec. 6, 2014, by Pete Rosos
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On Dec. 6, the first night in a wave of demonstrations in Berkeley related to the police-involved deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, Berkeley Police officers used tear gas to disperse crowds on Telegraph Avenue. Many individuals involved with that first night’s protest said the use of force, which also involved baton strikes and less-lethal projectiles, was unwarranted. Police said officers only took those steps after making dozens or even hundreds of dispersal orders, and being attacked themselves with a range of projectiles thrown by members of the crowd earlier in the night.

Read complete Berkeleyside coverage of the recent anti-police demonstrations

The Berkeley Police Department said costs to the city have not yet been tallied for its response to the protests — in which crowds ranged from 100 to 1,500 or more people during the first few nights. But the department anticipates costs in excess of several hundred thousand dollars, said Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan. The department does not yet have an estimate for damages to businesses.

Berkeleyside posed a list of questions to Meehan on Dec. 7, and received responses Dec. 18. The questions, some of which have been edited for clarity, follow, along with Meehan’s answers and several videos posted online by members of the crowd. … Continue reading »

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Vice principal at St. Mary’s school killed in bike accident

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The St. Mary’s College High School community is reeling from the accidental death Saturday of its assistant vice principal of student affairs.

Herman Shum, 40, who had just accepted a position as principal at Justin-Siena High School in Napa after 11 years at St. Mary’s, was killed during a bicycle ride east of Dublin in unincorporated Contra Costa County.

Shum was among a group of 50-60 cyclists who were riding in a pack on Highland Road around 9:45 a.m. Dec. 27, according to Sgt. Brent Bartusch of the California Highway Patrol. There was a collision of sorts at the front of the group of cyclists and some bikers fell to the ground.

Shum was in the back of the group. He may have taken evasive action to avoid the collision or he may have crashed into some bikers, said Bartusch. CHP officials are still investigating, but know that Shum was thrown from his bike and landed in the road where he was run over by a Peterbilt truck. Two others were also hurt, one seriously. … Continue reading »

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UC Berkeley student ID’d as Southside fatality, died from head trauma

Apoorve Agarwal. Photo: Apoorve Agarwal/Facebook
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The young man who died Saturday in Berkeley’s Southside neighborhood was a 20-year-old junior from San Ramon who was pursuing a double major in applied mathematics and economics at UC Berkeley, according to biographical information posted online.

The Berkeley Police Department said officers found the young man’s body just after 4 a.m. Saturday in the 2500 block of Piedmont Avenue, between Dwight Way and Parker Street.

The Alameda County coroner’s office identified the man Monday as Apoorve Agarwal.

“At this time, it does not appear foul play was involved and alcohol may have been a factor,” police said in a prepared statement Saturday.

According to scanner audio recordings reviewed by Berkeleyside, first responders were called to the scene for a report of an unresponsive man who had fallen down the stairs. Prior to their arrival, the man was not breathing, but CPR was performed by someone nearby. … Continue reading »

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A tragic death in Berkeley spurs funds for traffic beacons

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Nine months after a 98-year-old pedestrian was killed by a motorist while crossing Sacramento Street in a crosswalk in the middle of the day, the city is taking steps to install a flashing beacon pedestrian alert at the intersection where the accident occurred.

Joseph Luft, a Berkeley resident, psychologist and former San Francisco State University professor, was out for one of his regular strolls around lunchtime April 5 when he was hit by a car while crossing Sacramento at Bancroft Way. He died that evening at the hospital.

The driver, Robert Gilchrist, was charged with felony vehicular manslaughter and is being held in Santa Rita jail, with a pre-trial hearing scheduled for Dec. 31. Gilchrist didn’t have a valid driver’s license at the time of the accident and told police he was legally blind.

In the wake of Luft’s death, a number of residents complained to city officials about safety at the Sacramento-Bancroft intersection, which is the site of an assisted living facility, and near Washington Elementary School. Cars barreling down Sacramento, a thoroughfare, often don’t see or stop for pedestrians, even when they’re in the crosswalk, residents said. … Continue reading »

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20-year-old man found dead in Southside Berkeley

The young dead man was found in the 2500 block of Piedmont Avenue south of the UC Berkeley campus. Image: Google Maps
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Update, Dec. 22, 2 p.m. The Berkeley Police Department is not releasing the name of the deceased man at this time, and does not know whether he was a UC Berkeley student. Said Officer Byron White, a Berkeley Police spokesman, “At this point, the circumstances surrounding the death are consistent with death by accidental causes.”

Original post, Dec. 20, 3:10 p.m. A 20-year-old man was found dead on the street in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Berkeley Police said they responded to a report of an unresponsive male in the 2500 block of Piedmont Avenue in Southside Berkeley at approximately 3:59 a.m. on Dec. 20. 

Berkeley Police and Fire personnel arrived within minutes and discovered a 20-year-old male, deceased, just outside his residence.

BPD said it is investigating the case as a suspicious death, although it does not appear that foul play was involved. Alcohol may have been a factor, the police reported in a release issued at around 2:30 p.m. Saturday. … Continue reading »

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Exclusive: Man died after Berkeley protests delayed help

A resident of this building died after a paramedics were delayed from responding to his medical crisis on the second night of Berkeley's recent protests. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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A man who collapsed while waiting for Berkeley paramedics to arrive later died at the hospital, city employees have told Berkeleyside, after large protests that wracked the city earlier this month delayed first responders.

Berkeley Fire Chief Gil Dong has declined to comment on the incident, saying he is prohibited from doing so because of medical privacy laws.

“Anytime there is a delay it causes us concern,” he said, speaking generally. “Our objective is to get there rapidly so we can start treating the patient.”

Several city staffers — who asked not to be named because they are not authorized to speak with the media — confirmed that paramedics were delayed in their response to help the man who collapsed, and said he later died at the hospital.

See the February 2015 follow-up report on this story.

There were near-daily protests in Berkeley from Saturday, Dec. 6, through Sunday, Dec. 14, in connection with police-involved killings in Ferguson, Missouri, and Staten Island, New York. The most disruptive incidents took place Dec. 6 and Dec. 7.

The first night, police used tear gas and projectiles to disperse a Telegraph Avenue crowd that earlier in the night had attacked officers by hurling bottles, an ice pick and a sandbag, among other items, authorities said. The following night, officers kept their distance from the crowd which, though largely peaceful, included more than a dozen people who smashed the windows of Berkeley businesses and set debris fires as they marched through the city.

The second night, there was also a small group of people who police believe may have been responsible for attacking a man with a hammer downtown during the looting of Radio Shack, an armed robbery on Fulton and Ward streets, and shooting through the door of a Berkeley homeowner, in the 1800 block of Carleton Street, who confronted them about items they had stolen earlier in the night at Radio Shack. Those suspects — described as four young black men who at times wore white medical masks and rode BMX bicycles — remain at large. … Continue reading »

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Police: Man found dead in Berkeley’s Aquatic Park

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The body of a man was found Sunday afternoon in South Aquatic Park in Berkeley.

Berkeley police said it is too soon to determine whether foul play is involved. The incident is being investigated as a suspicious death.

Read the update on this story.

Berkeley police responded Sunday, Nov. 30, to a call at 4:12 p.m. to check on the welfare of a man reportedly lying on his back, motionless, to the south side of Aquatic Park, according to a Nixle alert put out by the Berkeley Police Department at around 7 p.m. Sunday. … Continue reading »

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Downtown Berkeley BART reopens after fatality

MacArthur BART station at around 7:15 p.m. after the downtown Berkeley BART station was closed due to a person under a train. Photo: Mori Yagi
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Update, Dec. 5: The person who died after being struck by a train at the downtown Berkeley BART station was Selam Sekuar, according to the Daily Cal. Sekuar, a UC Berkeley freshman and international student from Ethiopia, was 19. Read more about Sekuar.

Original story:

Update, 10:24 p.m.: The downtown Berkeley BART station reopened at 10:10 p.m. Tuesday. A BART spokesperson said service is running normally on the Richmond line although there would be “residual delays.”

To recap: BART received a report at 6:47 p.m. of a person under a train. At 7 p.m., BART confirmed that was the case. At around 7:15 p.m. BART confirmed the person had died. The station was closed from 7-10:10 p.m. while the case was investigated.

Update, 9:40 p.m.: The downtown Berkeley BART station remains closed due to a person who went under a train shortly before 7 p.m. and was pronounced dead. Trains are running through the station but not stopping. BART says to expect 15-20 minute delays. Embarcadero station in San Francisco is also closed due a person under a train. … Continue reading »

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