Tag Archives: Berkeley fatality

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

Joseph Luft
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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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Authorities release name of man killed at King School

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The construction worker who died at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School in Berkeley earlier this week has been identified by authorities as 62-year-old Oscar Marquez of Livermore.

Marquez, an employee of Robert A. Bothman Construction, had been laying asphalt for a school track project on Tuesday at 12:35 p.m. when a big rig parked on a slope rolled over him and killed him, authorities said.

The Alameda County coroner’s office said the cause of death was listed as extensive blunt force trauma.

Cal/OSHA spokesman Peter Melton said earlier this week that the agency will conduct the investigation into Marquez’s death, which could take up to six months to complete. The agency enforces worker safety and health standards. … Continue reading »

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Livermore man killed on construction site at King School

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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By Emilie Raguso and Tracey Taylor

Update, 5:26 p.m. Brian Bothman, vice president of operations for the Robert A. Bothman Construction company, described his employee who died Tuesday as “a great guy” who had been with the company for 25 years.

“We, all of us, are really saddened by the loss of our friend and a great employee,” he said. “We don’t know any more than anybody else knows at this point. The investigation is on-going. Our thoughts and prayers are with the friends and family of the employee. We will support them in this, and we will continue to support them as long as it’s needed.”

Bothman said he learned of the fatality in a phone call from a safety officer earlier on Tuesday. He said he could not release the man’s name because not all family members have been notified.  … Continue reading »

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$15,000 reward offered after pedestrian hit-and-run death

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The city of Berkeley is offering a $15,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the driver responsible for a hit-and-run accident that killed a 46-year-old man last week, officials said Monday in a prepared statement.

The accident took place July 15 at 5:10 a.m. on the University Avenue overpass, which pedestrians and cyclists are prohibited from using.  … Continue reading »

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Sign added near site of fatal Berkeley hit-and-run

University Avenue overpass sign
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A sign has been installed on a median next to the University Avenue overpass the day after a 46-year old man, identified Wednesday as John Patrick Miller, was killed there in a suspected hit-and-run incident. The sign prohibits pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorbikes from using the bridge, and directs walkers to use the pedestrian bridge (although without providing directions to it).

When the fatal accident occurred, no signs were present on the east end of the overpass, which connects University Avenue to the I-80 ramps and the Berkeley Marina. The incident raised concerns about pedestrian safety in the area. Several Berkeleyside readers suggested walkers should be informed that a pedestrian and bicycle bridge across the highway is located just a few blocks to the north south, near the intersection of Addison Street and Bolivar Drive. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley hit-and-run raises concerns for safety

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Update, July 17: The pedestrian killed was identified by the Alameda County Coroner’s office as John Patrick Miller, 46. No residence was provided. He died of “extensive blunt trauma.”

Update, 9:25 pm: The man killed in the suspected hit-and-run incident was a 46-year-old homeless man, according to the Alameda Country Coroner’s Bureau, reported on Monday night by Patch. The man’s name was not released because next of kin have not been notified.

Original story: A fatal hit-and-run accident on the University Avenue overpass Monday, July 15 has raised concerns about safety there and the absence of signage warning pedestrians not to walk on the roadway.

There is no sidewalk on the overpass. There is currently no sign prohibiting pedestrians or bicycles from using the overpass. An image taken for Google Maps in April 2011, however, shows that there used to be a sign in the divider to the right of the overpass heading west. It read: “Pedestrians, bicycles, motor driven cycles prohibited.”

A man was discovered by a Berkeley police officer at 5:10 a.m. this morning on the first section of the westbound section overpass near the intersection with Fourth Street. He was declared dead on the scene and preliminary investigations indicated he was the victim of a a hit-and-run accident. … Continue reading »

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Hit-and-run kills pedestrian on Berkeley overpass

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Update, July 17: The pedestrian killed was identified by the Alameda County coroner’s office as John Patrick Miller, 46. No residence was provided. He died of “extensive blunt trauma.”

Update, 11:01 am: As of 10:44 a.m. the Berkeley Police Department’s fatal accident investigation team has cleared the scene of the fatal collision on University Avenue. The roadway is now open in both directions. The investigation continues. No information has been released on the victim and there is no possible suspect information.

Original story: Berkeley police are investigating a fatal hit-and-run accident that happened on the University Avenue overpass over Interstate 80 this morning. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley community remembers teen slain in Oakland

Olajuwon in his early days at Berkeley High. Photo: Phil Halpern
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[Editor's Note: Olajuwon Clayborn's funeral will be held Friday, May 17, at 11 a.m. at Missionary Church of God in Christ, 1125 Allston Way, in Berkeley.]

Students and teachers in one of Berkeley High’s small schools were left reeling this week after a former member of their cohort was shot and killed in East Oakland over the weekend.

Those who knew Olajuwon “Lil Tutu” Clayborn, 17, described him as a sweet, quiet guy, a well-dressed ladies man who was passionate about basketball, and a dedicated student despite struggles in the classroom. Clayborn attended Berkeley schools from pre-school through 11th grade; he transferred to Castlemont High School in Oakland last fall for his senior year.

“If he loved you, he loved you to death,” said best friend Lonnie Brewer, 18, a Berkeley High senior in the school’s Communication Arts & Science (CAS) program. “He had your back. If I had an argument on the court, he’d be right there.” … Continue reading »

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