Hit-and-Run Driver Who Killed Bicyclist Claims No Knowledge of Crash

Note: We’ve posted an update and a profile of Mary Yonkers.

The driver of a dump truck who killed a bicyclist this morning in Redwood City has been located by investigators, but claimed he was not aware he hit the woman, and has not been arrested, Bay City News quoted police as saying.

Redwood City Police said the crash happened shortly before 8 a.m. as the driver, who was not identified, was turning onto Holly Street from southbound Shoreway Road. Earlier reports had the crash on Redwood Shores Parkway. According to the BCN report, "a woman on a bicycle tried to pass the truck as it turned, but she was struck and some part of the truck rolled over her, police said."

The bicyclist was identified by the San Mateo County Coroner’s office as 58-year-old Mary Yonkers of San Mateo. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

BCN quoted police as saying a truck matching the description was located by witnesses at the Allied Waste San Carlos transfer station on Shoreway Road around 9 a.m.

Monica Devincenzi, the recycling outreach and sustainability manager for the South Bayside Waste Management Authority, confirmed the driver works for one of the agency’s subcontractors. She described the vehicle as a transfer truck.

"It is a tragic incident and we’re sorry that it happened. We hope that the investigation results in finding out exactly what happened," she said, adding that SBWMA contractors are required to undergo driver safety training but "they are generally handled by the companies the drivers work for."

Redwood City Police did not immediately return our phone calls seeking more information.

Updated 4:29 p.m.

  • mcas

    You know what they say– if you want to get away with murder in the California, just slump the body over a bike on the side of a road…

  • patrick

    Wikipedia defines involuntary manslaughter:

    “Involuntary manslaughter is the unlawful killing of a human being without malice aforethought”

    now I know that’s not the exact legal definition, but it certainly seems to apply here. I really don’t understand why people are allowed to get away with this type of stuff just because they are behind a steering wheel.

  • Erik

    So she tried to pass a right-turning truck on the right? That’s a pretty dumb thing to do.

  • A man driving a Prius nearly plowed into me riding my bright orange cycle through the San Francisco intersection of 2nd & Townsend. I was wearing bright orange clothes too.

    I easily caught up to him at the next red light. His back window was open, so I stopped & asked him “Do you realize you just came within inches of taking me out back there?”

    He response, “Huh? I didn’t see you.”

    I replied, “Really? PLEASE keep your eyes open.”

    This lady’s death is sad, but as a bicyclist you have to realize that drivers do not pay attention. Cyclists must proactively stay out of the way or so in the way (middle of the right lane!) that drivers can’t miss you.

  • He might not have signalled, so she might not have had any way of knowing that he was about to turn right.

    Or he might have overtaken her after she started turning right without seeing her, and then turned right and hit her. I have had people overtake me and turn right into my path without seeing that I was there.

    I am not saying these things happened. I am saying that we don’t know that she did something dumb.

  • Erik

    And before I get dog-piled, I think the truck driver is definitely at fault here but it is hard gain any kind of public sympathy when cyclists insist on doing dumb things.

  • He response, “Huh? I didn’t see you.”

    I replied, “Really? PLEASE keep your eyes open.”

    Correct response: “When did the DMV remove the eye test from the driver’s exam?”

  • Jym

    =v= Don’t be so presumptuously judgemental. The police claim that onlookers claimed that she was trying to pass on the right, but I’m familiar with that intersection and I question whether any onlookers could see such a thing clearly.

  • Regardless of anything, this driver must be held accountable. Oh, I killed a cyclist and didn’t know it, my bad. I’ll pay more attention next time.

  • Winston

    If the eyewitness accounts are correct then it is very likely that this woman was at fault for her own demise. While motorists need to treat cyclists with respect, cyclists also need to not be idiots.

  • kit

    @pylon: The best we can hope for is that he gets his class B license revoked. There is no way anyone will successfully file criminal charges. Our culture is predisposed to expect vehicles to spontaneously kill humans, apparently at no fault of the people operating them.

    “These things just happen.” Right?

  • AW

    So witnesses say the bicyclist tried to pass on the right. What’s the chances that this bicyclist tried to turn into the bike lane on Holly, but failed to take into account the swept path of a turning tractor trailer? How many times have we seen on the back of tractor trailers stickers to the effect of “wide turns”?

    Now I realize this is a pro-bicyclist group here, but come on. Instead of learning from this tragic accident, we

    1) Question the validity of the witness statements.
    2) Immediately blame the truck driver.

    The reality is that Shoreway Road is one lane in each direction, and if the witness statements are accurate (and none of us are there to question otherwise), then the truck clearly had position and the bicyclist should have yielded.

  • bmclaughlin807

    Yes, none of us were there to ‘question otherwise’ … the cyclist is dead and we get accounts from people who may not have been in a position to see what actually happened.

    how about this (second hand) quote from an eyewitness: “that’s so weird. i see the official descriptions of what happened, but my shuttle bus driver kept talking about — and don’t quote me — ‘crazy driver crossing so many lanes without even looking’.”

  • Joe Schmoe

    Just a question to all of you that pre-judge this incident and came to the conclusion that this was the truck drivers fault, have any of you actually driven a large commercial vehical? How about a 53 foot tractor trailer that weighs 80,000 lbs? In a fully loaded semi you will not feel hitting something as large as a Honda Civic let alone a person on a bike who drove under your back tires. I know this from experiance. No way is this the truck drivers fault. He didnt even feel it and it most likely occured in his blind spot.

    Cycleists need to realize they are not “King of the road”. Your spandex bike shorts dont generate a force field that stops cars from killing you and sure as hell doesnt give you the right to blow thru red lights and stop signs.

    Please respect cars and trucks, or they may kill you.

  • I am constantly being told by motorists (through various means – horn honking, yelling, intimidation) that I need to be on the right side of the road, even when I’m in the door zone in a narrow lane. Now, this person’s death is being blamed on her own actions. That’s hardly fair given the prejudice and disregard most motorists have for cyclists. She was–according to the law in most circumstances was where she should have been. Yet, her actions are being judged as dumb, stupid and inferred as reckless.

    We don’t know which direction she was going to take: forward or turning right. We don’t know how experienced she was in negotiating that type of intersection. BUT I’m sure a lot of the experienced cyclists reading this have had motorists make unexpected turns, lane changes or other actions in front of them. Erratic driving is out there all the time, I’m sure people who read this who also are motorists can attest to that. Close calls do happen to motorists as well as cyclists and in this case it was deadly.

    My heart goes out to her family.

  • Peter Smith

    looks like we got some tough guys in the comments. nice.

    as for eyewitness accounts, i was told by an eyewitness that the cyclist had no helmet on. apparently, she did have a helmet on. it’s basically a human meat grinder — it just has this intense feeling of danger. it’s a huge intersection, and the huge sweeping right turn (it’s the opposite side of the street from the Google Street View shown above — it’s where the northern part of Shoreline Rd intersects Holly) looks like it could be easily misjudged — i imagine the huge truck just took off and moved right a lot quicker than Mary suspected it would or even could.

    i’m not a trained urban planner, but it seems those turns are designed to ease car/truck movement. did road builders ever imagine that a biker would try to brave that environment when they designed and built the road? i doubt it. is a ‘squared off’ intersection safer for bikers than these rounded-corner intersections? i would think so, because it would seem to force truck drivers to make wide turns to avoid running their back tires over curbs and knocking down light poles, etc., but not sure.

    i checked out the intersection today. the pavement is cracked/broken and it’s coming off an S-curve, with a huge puddle out there today, and a guardrail on your right — presumably to keep cars and trucks from hurting themselves?

    i picked up a broken caliper and fender. there were a couple of other things.

    i left a flower.

  • @peter as a cyclist who rides this route everyday thank you for your care. I got to witness dump-trucks sweeping across from 101 -> shoreline on holly approaching redwood shores this morning. I really wish there was something more I could do for this intersection… it just feels horrible to ride it, especially now.

  • “The reality is that Shoreway Road is one lane in each direction, and if the witness statements are accurate (and none of us are there to question otherwise), then the truck clearly had position and the bicyclist should have yielded.”

    Unless the truck was overtaking the cyclist. We’ll never know.

  • Peter Smith

    i had to head back to the area at lunch — there’s a strip mall over in that direction — so I went back to the scene again. i started heading north on Shoreline Rd and a dump truck started in the same direction, behind me. thing was crazy loud and started getting closer and closer. i started to think he was just gonna run me over — be like, ‘f it, why not?’ — so i hopped off the road to the left (there wasn’t any oncoming traffic). i was moving pretty decent — it’s flat, there.

    turned out he wasn’t that close to me. yet.

    granted, i don’t have experience riding around these monsters, but damn — that thing made an articulated Muni bus feel like a whimpering poodle. sounded like the dude was trying to get all up in my business. there is no room to pass there, there was an oncoming truck a little further down, and it’s crazy curvy around there.

  • HF

    This is indeed a tragic death, and while I don’t feel that blog comment streams can decide the judicial outcome, I want to point to a possible factor: Redwood City bikeways are poorly designated, lack lanes or sharrows, and are often on heavily trafficked streets that double as light industry and thus have a high incidence of trucking. If this doesn’t galvanize Redwood City to look into comprehensive bike improvements on their roadways, what will?

    I recently had the misfortune of commuting between RC caltrain station and 450 Broadway. Once you get out of downtown, Broadway is a fast, densely trafficked street with light industry and a good deal of trucking coming right off 101. Very similar to the area where the cyclist was killed today. It is also SUPPOSEDLY a bike route. In my travels, I was forced off the road by one such truck. I asked another cyclist who regularly goes that route to work. He said he often feels unsafe and resorts to the partial sidewalks.

    Tragedies like this one should be occasions for rethinking cycling infrastructure in peninsula towns like Redwood City, which shares some measure in blame.

  • I knew a Mary Yonkers that rode a bicycle & worked here in the City since the 80’s. Sadly . . . i think it is the same one.

    If it is she’s had plenty of experience and knows the roads. I don’t know what the conditions of the accident were. i. e. was she wearing headphones or a helmet and didn’t hear well-enough or judge distance and speed of truck?

    I’ve seen a lot of bicylists on San Francisco streets & boulevards (usually in the far right lane) and always wondered how can that be safe? and legal?

    Why the DMV doesn’t outlaw bicycles on public roads to protect them is beyond me.

    I guess there aren’t enough cyclists dying fast enough in traffic.

    Bicyclists should stick to paths and leaves the roads stictly for motor vehicles. (nothing will probably come of it)

    Though the truck driver could be a certain percentage at fault . what is a 100 lb. bicylist doing sharing the same road as a ten+ ton vehicle?

    What a horroble untimely death.

    If it’s the same Mary . . what a beautiful lady!

    Freak accident . . How sad.

    RIP Mary.

    John

  • david

    Mary was obviously in a dangerous area and made a risky decision. It cost her her life. The truck driver appears to not be at fault. You have to be especially cautious when you are riding a bicycle on a public rode. I certainly wouldn’t do it.Why not ride your bike on all the trails in the Shores instead of on a busy street?

  • zsolt

    Some comments here are unbelievable. All the doubts about the cyclist’s behavior and decisions. Why not apply the same method and “ask questions” of the driver’s behavior and decisions? Was he talking on the cell phone? Was he not paying attention? Was he swerving suddenly and without warning? Did he ever check his surroundings and look in his mirror? And if it’s “obviously a dangerous area” then why was nothing done about it by the municipalities? Why is it an obvious danger to get on your bike in this, supposedly so civilized part of the world?

    This seems to have been an experienced biker. In those cases I always tend to assume that the biker is not to blame. You don’t get to bike for decades on the roads without learning to recognize and avoid dangerous situations.

    I have to say though, this one takes the cake:

    “Why the DMV doesn’t outlaw bicycles on public roads to protect them is beyond me.”

    Excuse me while I pick my jaw off the floor. Calling John Forrester!

    Looking beyond the fact that the DMV would not have the authority to outlaw anything, if I would follow your logic, the thing we should outlaw is actually automobiles and trucks. Or else, would you want to outlaw everything automobiles and trucks are a danger to, including bikers, pedestrians, children and seniors?? Everything BUT disciplining motor vehicles, eh?

    Good god, man. And this after being almost run over by an aggravated BMW driver riding up on Broadway in Oakland this afternoon. Maybe I shouldn’t have spit through his open window as he sped by, but you know, the fact that he honked at me and hurled his two ton vehicle at me only to stop a foot from me without the slightest provocation or law breaking on my part (yeah, taking the lane is allowed by law right?), it kind of clouded my judgement and I will always derive a certain amount of joy from the memory of him wiping, if for nothing else, just for my excellent aiming abilities. Freak accident — my ass. I really try, and I’m a nice guy. But sometimes it does feel like a war out there.

  • daphne

    If you bike somewhere dangerous every day, the odds of something bad happening increase accordingly.

    Shoreline near Holly is one of those dangerous places. Garbage trucks are constantly driving up and down Shoreway, every weekday, because that’s where the transfer station is. They always drive the same route (turn right onto Holly from Shoreline). They’re impossible not to notice when you’re on a bike…if not the sound then by the smell.

    On Shoreway, between the transfer station and Holly, there is no bike lane, the pavement is terrible, it’s not particularly scenic, and it smells bad. If you want to go South, I recommend Twin Dolphin for that stretch. It’s got striping, nice views, and there’s no giant trucks or potholes.

  • Raymond Paquette

    I have been a professional driver, and I think that some of the comments about the dump driver miss the point. The area around any big vehicle is a danger zone, but one which is entirely the responsibility of the driver. A good driver knows that and is careful, and especially careful on dangerous roads. If I’m driving, and I have a blind spot, then I KNOW that I don’t know what may be in it. I don’t assume that my blind spot is empty, than blame whatever gets squashed for being there.

    Regarding “passing on the right”. Imagine the comments if she had been hit from behind in the traffic lane.

    Motor vehicles are loaded weapons. Drivers are responsible for them. I’ve never heard of someone getting hit and killed by a bicycle.

  • Andy N

    Mr. Schmoe –

    Biggest I’ve driven is a 32 foot truck, a 32′ RV, and a WWII Dodge PowerWagon. Basically the limit of my Class C/M1 license. I’d love the chance to try driving something truly big & heavy (I won’t tell the DMV if you won’t.) What have you got to offer?

    In return, I’ll loan you my 20 pound roadbike, and we’ll spend a day or two riding in traffic. You won’t need any spandex – lord knows I never wear it. Helmet will be your choice, but no iPods allowed – I’m not suicidal.

  • I have been reading your posts this afternoon as I just found out these posts were here.
    It was Mary Yonkers. She was a wonderful woman who was my neighbor and friend. She loved animals,she took care of all the animals in our neighbor hood when we were away.
    Mary rode her bike to work everyday. This road was not new to her.She rode her bike everywhere with her helmet on. She was a Very safe bike rider.
    I was not there. I cannot say what happened, except for this was a horrible accident.
    I am missing her so much.As everyone else in our little community.
    She was a very kind woman. She would want all of you to be kind also.
    We never know why we leave this earth when we do.
    I know Mary is here in our hearts…..
    Peace

  • Foster City Bike Trail Friend

    Patricia: Thank you for letting everyone know that Mary was a wonderful person. After reading another stream of comments, I too was compelled to weigh in.

    http://sf.streetsblog.org/2009/10/14/bicyclist-killed-in-redwood-city-hit-and-run/comment-page-1/#comment-45761

    Please let us know if there will be a celebration of Mary’s life and also who will take care of her precious puppy Moe.

  • Patricia

    HI Foster City friend,
    Moe and everyone are heart sick about all of this…
    Is there any way I can contact you besides here?
    Thank you for wonderful post on the other site…
    Patricia

  • Foster City Bike Trail Friend

    Hi Patricia,

    Please contact me at Bike.Trail.friend@gmail.com.

    I like Barry’s idea (from the other blog) to make a memorial donation to the Peninsula SPCA.

    We will run on Sunday morning and remember Mary.

  • Vehicles that are so large that you do not notice if you have struck and crushed a human being should not be allowed on roads with human beings. Period.

  • Rebecca

    The only person who will ever know what really happened is Mary. We can speculate but will probably never know.

    Patricia – thank you for your kinds words about Mary. I’ve known her for many years through cycling and will miss seeing her on the bike path and will miss riding next to her chatting about life’s challenges.

    For those of you who have questioned safety – Mary always had a helmet and would never listen to music – she was as safety conscience as any cyclist could be. She rode everywhere and was aware of the dangers of being on a bike around cars. And she took her own safety very seriously.

    It’s time to stop blaming. Cars and bikes will both be part of our roadways and perhaps we could better spend our energy looking for solutions to improve dangerous intersections. As a commuter myself, I have had many close calls and know that close calls are part of the risk.

    Let’s celebrate Mary’s life for the gentle soul that she was and remember her for her contributions to our lives.

  • Foster City Bike Trail Friend

    Hi Rebecca and Patricia,

    Many of us would like to join in the celebration of Mary’s life.
    Please share details.

    Foster City Bike Trail Friend of Mary & Moe
    Bike.Trail.friend@gmail.com

  • steve

    The idea that large trucks should be banned is just as ridiculous as the idea of banning bikes from streets. Do you want the cement for you sidewalk delivered? Groceries to get to your store? Your trash picked up? The fact is, most people, bicyclests, regular car drivers, and pedestrians, have no clue about what a truck can and cannot do when it is driving down the road. No, trucks cannot stop on a dime. Nor can they make anything resembling a sharp turn. What this usually means is that the truck driver has to swing the truck out wide and then in to make the turn. The driver will try to do what’s called “controlling the lane” by keeping part of their tail in the turn lane to block following traffic while swinging the nose out wide anough so that the whole truck will follow safely around the turn while being in sight through its mirrors, but that is not always possible. What I see happen all the time are cars, bikes, and pedestrians coming into that turn path. People, wake up!! There is no guarantee that the truck driver will see you, let alone be able to stop in time, and you WILL lose if you get in that turn path.

  • Leon

    There will forever be a void in my life. She was such a wonderful person.

  • Ken

    I was Mary’s roommate for 20+ years and knew her for 25 years. In that amount of time you would think you would know everything about a person. After her death I found out that I knew very little about her. I knew that she was a likeable person and had many friends but I had no idea how many people she had helped with personal problems and how she had affected so many lives. One lady told me Mary was an Angel on earth. Of course most of us knew of her love for animals. It is such a shame she did not know how much she would be misses by so many people. There will be a Celebration Of Life for Mary on Sat. Oct.24 at the Laguna Vista Clubhouse at 3324 Kimberly Way San Mateo from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. Please bring an appetizer to share for our potluck table. In lieu of flowers please donate to the Peninsula Humane Society/SPCA in Mary’s name. Moe and I are liiking forware to meeting you all.

  • Rocco

    I love how each side blames the other. Truth, when on a bike, you need to be defensive. I road many years, and I always gave the right of way to the cars. That is a battle you won’t win. The same holds true now that I ride motorcycles. If a bike rider wonders why a driver is irritated, maybe because you hogged the lane, than at a stop light, you sneak by the side, and then role through the red light. If you want respect, you must earn it.

  • Cindy

    I am Mary’s sister-in-law in Michigan and want to thank everybody for their kind comments and compassion shared with us while her brother and I were in San Mateo this past 6 days. We can’t thank you enough. We will be with you in spirit at the Celebration of her Life on Saturday.

    Mary had a kind heart and wouldn’t want all of this arguing or finger pointing. As said many times, nobody will ever know exactly what happened or why. She would want all of us to learn from this, help each other through it and have compassion. The truck driver and his family are suffering just like all of us.

    Let’s follow Mary’s example and help each other, be kinder and more respectful of everybody. We’re all here together with different interests and there’s room for improvement in all of us.

    On behalf of the Yonkers family, thank you for all of the kind memories and comments. We truly appreciate them and know she was well loved in CA.

  • Linda

    Mary has been my friend for almost 50 years. We grew up together in the same small town just outside Chicago. She introduced me to my husband Jim almost 25 years ago when they were both in a San Francisco cycling club. Mary and I did a lot of traveling and hiking together in the 1970s and 80s. One thing we could never do together was bicycling because I could never keep up with her! She was a true athlete who once hiked to the top of Mount Tamalpais and immediately turned around and did it again just for the exercise! She was also a kind, gentle soul who seldom uttered a mean word about anybody. I will miss her terribly.

  • FYI

    I work at a business on shoreway rd, & this individual always rode her bike way too close to the trucks. Shoreway Rd has high volume traffic of commercial trucks – especially with the demolition & construction work going on – and is not a road that bicyclists or pedestrians should travel. She was in an area of Shoreway Rd where there’s gravel & THAT is where she should have waited for the light to turn – NOT UP NEXT TO THE TRANSFER TRUCK. Yes, it is a tragedy, but common knowledge is not to wait next to a truck of that size which is turning. Natural Selection.

  • FYI – if a professional driver cannot handle cyclist or pedestrians on the road, they should find a different job.

    Gravel on the side of the road is not a road. To say that she should be on that is akin to me saying “Parallel to Shoreway is Highway 101 – THAT IS WHERE THE TRUCKS SHOULD BE”.

    Your last comment – natural selection. Shit.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Bicyclist Killed in Redwood City Hit-and-Run

|
View Larger Map Note: We’ve posted an update and a profile of the bicyclist, Mary Yonkers. According to KCBS radio, a bicyclist has been killed in a hit-and-run crash involving a dump truck this morning in Redwood City: Authorities are looking for the driver of a dump truck who hit and killed a bicyclist in […]

Bicyclist Killed by Muni Bus on 6th Avenue in Inner Richmond

|
UPDATED Friday, 9:05 a.m. A 22-year-old bicyclist named Derek Allen was killed by the driver of a 44-O’Shaughnessy on 6th Avenue between Geary Boulevard and Clement Street late Thursday afternoon in the city’s second bicyclist fatality of the year. (The raw video above is from CBS5). A spokesperson for the San Francisco Medical Examiner’s office […]

Bicyclist Critically Injured in Crash with Truck Driver in SoMa

|
A 25-year-old woman riding a bicycle was critically injured in a collision with a food delivery truck at the intersection of Mission and Fremont streets this morning. San Francisco police blamed the bicyclist because investigators determined she was making an illegal left turn onto Fremont, which is prohibited except for taxis and buses. “All indications […]