UPDATE: Victims Identified in Fatal Crash

Both driver and passenger of vehicle hit by Walnut Creek man were killed in accident Monday.

UPDATE: The victims of a fatal car crash Monday afternoon have been identified as Elham Pirdavari, 51, the driver of the vehicle that was struck, and passenger Mahindokht Dowlati, 72. Both were residents of Danville.

Pirdavari was pronounced dead at the scene at Sycamore Valley Road and Brookside Drive by San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District emergency personnel. 

Dowlati was taken to John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek, where she was pronounced dead from her injuries.

According to a family member who posted on Patch, the two were mother and daughter.

"They were both very close to me. Don't be quick to blame. Let's just work together to make sure we drive safe and keep dangerous drivers off the road and to not let this happen again. This is just absolutely horrible. Thank you for everyone's thoughts and prayers," wrote A.G.

Danville Police Lt. Jeff Moule said the incident occurred at 4:18 p.m. Monday. A red truck driven by a Walnut Creek man westbound on Sycamore Valley Road collided with Pirdavari's vehicle, believed to be an SUV, traveling southbound on Brookside Drive. 

Life Flight medical helicopters landed at the Park and Ride facility off of Sycamore Valley Road and took the westbound driver and Dowlati to area trauma centers.

The driver, a 32-year-old who police did not yet want to identify, was taken to Eden Valley Medical Center in Castro Valley. His condition is unknown as of Tuesday morning.

Sycamore Valley Road was closed in both directions to all traffic, from Camino Ramon to Old Camino Tassajara, until after midnight while officers conducted an on-scene investigation.

Lt. Moule said no charges have been filed, pending the completion of the investigation.

“It’s going to be a long process to investigate,” he said.

Danville Police are asking that anyone who may have witnessed the crash contact them immediately at (925) 314-3700. 

Danville Patch has created a map of Danville's problem intersections. If you know of any, please post them on this map.

Patch will update this story as it continues to develop.

Geoff Gillette November 10, 2011 at 03:32 AM
Good evening, I wanted to take a moment and just respond to some of the concerns and issues being raised in the wake of this tragedy. First, let me thank all of you for taking the time to express your concerns for the family of the victims. It is this sort of community spirit and care that makes Danville the amazing place that it is and makes me proud to live and work here. From going through all the comments in the thread there are a couple of running themes and I was hoping that I could address those. 1. Speed limit on Sycamore Valley Road/Camino Tassajara: There’s a perception that this is a residential road, but the reality is that it isn’t. It’s a major arterial road, connecting much of the eastern end of Town to the downtown and I-680. Having that arterial available, allows a significant number of drivers to get across Town without having to use those residential roads. Our traffic counts show that on an average weekday, Sycamore will see around 28,000 vehicles per day. Changing the speed limit is not quite as simple as just changing the signs. State law mandates that speed limits are to be set at the prevailing speed, as determined through an established process. Setting the speed limit below the documented prevailing speed would subject all traffic tickets along that roadway to legal challenge, and thereby rendering the Town’s speed enforcement efforts to be unenforceable. (cont.)
Geoff Gillette November 10, 2011 at 03:34 AM
In response to concerns about speeding, the Town has been focusing efforts – including focused speed enforcement, traffic safety education, and installation of radar speed display signs - along Sycamore over the past few years. We are pleased to see that these measures have had the effect of slowing down the prevailing speed on the road from prevailing speed on the road has been from 50.3 mph in 2002 to 47.2 mph in 2007. 2. Enforcement: Many comments have been made regarding enforcement or lack thereof by the Danville Police Department. Our officers are deployed to cover the entire Town, an area of 18.1 square miles, consisting of 145 miles of roadway. In response to the comment that the Town writes tickets to generate revenue, it’s important to note only about 3% of the Police Department’s Operating Budget is covered by the income from traffic enforcement. It’s not something that is done with an eye towards profiting the Town, but rather throughout the entire Town with the mission of accident reduction. Enforcement efforts include distracted driving and cell phone usage. The Danville Police Department takes a strong stance in the area of distracted driving. They also participate in other enforcement efforts, such as the “Share Our Streets” program this past summer. The Town is also actively committed to promoting traffic safety through education programs such as Street Smarts on subjects such as speeding and distracted driving. (cont.)
Geoff Gillette November 10, 2011 at 03:35 AM
Town officials appreciate the time and effort that residents have taken to share their concerns. Many of you have offered suggestions regarding traffic calming devices, lane design and other issues. Let me assure you that the Town looks at all avenues in making our roads as safe as possible and will continue to do so. Our hearts go out to the family of Mrs. Pirdavari and Mrs. Dowlati. Thank you, Geoff Gillette Public Information Coordinator Town of Danville
Jen November 10, 2011 at 04:42 AM
"Restaurant and Biz Owner", I would love to know the name of your business so I can make sure you never get any of my families money. You sound plain ignorant.
Mary November 10, 2011 at 05:33 AM
Thank you Michael. Its painful and Its unforgettable. We just review every day all the good memories we have from these two wonderful ladies and human beings. God bless you all.
Judy Kuehner November 10, 2011 at 05:59 AM
I have to disagree with many of the comments on this board; we can't blame the Danville police for this terrible tragedy, the blame lays with the driver who ran the light. Just last week, I was crossing out of the Livery and Mercantile shopping center to the CVS/Lucky shopping center, when the light changed and I proceeded to cross SRV Blvd. when a driver, wanting to make the light, came roaring from my left, and would have broad sided me on the driver's side if I had not slammed on my brakes to avoid a collision. Driver's are the cause of accidents, not the police, or even the posted speed limits (because, driver's don't pay any attention to them until they get a ticket). DRIVER'S NEED TO ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY AND NOT ONLY OBEY SPEED LIMITS, BUT NOT TEXT OR TALK ON THEIR CELL PHONES!
Sheila Anderson November 12, 2011 at 01:59 AM
What a terrible tragedy.... I go up and down this street daily, and it sickens me to death... A few years ago a grandfather was killed in the same spot... How in the world does this happen at 4:30 in the afternoon.... People are flying through here daily, and we need to put a stop to it now.... She was a beautiful person, and this is so so sad. My love, prayers and support go out to the entire family and community during this time of loss and grief...
Michael Fryer November 12, 2011 at 02:29 AM
To the family of the lovely women lost ~ My family's prayers will be with you tomorrow at the Memorial. We will hold moments of silence for you. We would not intrude on your grief, but want you to know you are in our prayers and thoughts.
Herb Asbury November 14, 2011 at 08:20 AM
Does a Sate Highway go through the subject intersection? If so CalTrans has jurisdiction over what is done in that intersection. Several of you have mentioned other fatal accidents at that intersection. What do you know about the details of the accidents? When did the fatal accidents occur? Do you know when any major injury accidents at that intersection happened? Number of fatalities, major injuries? What is the story, ie. what were they doing when they crashed? What is the traffic light sequence at that intersection? I am trying to convice CalTrans that they have an intersection problem here in Santa Maria and should make a change, but they say the fatality rate is not high enough for them to make a change even though is not a costly($) change. State wide statistics of fatalities at intersections that are similar should get their attention. What can you tell me? Why am I involved? I lost my wife at the local intersection two years ago and I believe a change would give the alert driver a better chance to avoid an accident with a red light runner (for any reason).
anony November 14, 2011 at 08:40 PM
I hope one of the key city officials makes a public announcement very soon letting us know they hear our comments and will make the suggested changes. I understand the State's protocol but it also states a loophole where individual city's are allowed to lower the "critical 85% speed" if unique conditions are present. I believe this particular intersection clearly qualifies as a unique condition (i.e. 3 fatalities and countless red light runners daily as witnessed by any motorist who travels on this road). I hope the politicians and the police don't hide behind the political statements (i.e. the police have 18.1 sq miles to patrol and state laws) and not take any action. I GUARANTEE if one of these key officials family members were ever injured / killed at this intersection the change would occur the next day. I do agree the sun can be an issue during a pocket of time in late afternoon, which is the time this collision occurred. I like the suggested by the CHP officer of perhaps adding ground blinking lights when light is yellow / red or perhaps make the ground lights coincide with the traffic light, solid yellow and solid red. This would help with the sun glare. Secondly, the extended right lane to get onto NB I-680 needs to be reevaluated. Either shorten it back to how it was or force the right lane just east of the intersection to be a dedicated right turn only lane. This would definitely make it safe. Lastly, GOD SPEED to this tragedy and the families / friends!
Glen November 15, 2011 at 09:26 PM
Don't expect any quick response from the Danville Police Department. I just called to inquire about the status of the investigation. The response was nothing, basically. They are going to take their sweet time on this one. Unacceptable!
Glen November 15, 2011 at 09:30 PM
Geoff, While I can appreciate your job may include portraying city officials, including police, in a positive light, I'm afraid your very diplomatic explanation on behalf of the Danville police doesn't quite pass the smell test. Several Danville residents, including myself, drive this road several times a day and witness with increasing concern the dangerous conditions that exist. I can appreciate there are a lot of roads for police to enforce traffic laws in our small town, however, not all of these roads exhibit the same number of accidents and especially fatal accidents. People are concerned for their own safety every time they or their family members drive on Sycamore Valley road. I would imagine these same people don't have similar concerns driving on 90+% of Danville's other roads. What we don't want to hear is political hogwash about how the police are doing the best they can and there are 18.1 square miles of road to patrol, etc. There is little, if any police presence on this road, period. The comments by concerned Danville residents about the conditions on this road as well as a notable lack of any law enforcement are not made up, I assure you. You insult the residents of Danville and the many victims of car accidents along this road with your political nonsense. It's clear the citizens of Danville are ON OUR OWN on this road with ZERO help from the police. Tell me again, when's the next election??
Glen November 15, 2011 at 09:35 PM
I will be publishing a website shortly with the details of this tragic accident and tracking the response from the Danville Police Department and city officials in an effort to keep this story in focus. We deserve to know the details of the accident and how future ones can be prevented.
Glen November 15, 2011 at 09:38 PM
No one is blaming the police, clearly, but the fact that there are NO police enforcing traffic laws effectively sure makes it easier for people to run red lights and endanger the rest of us.
Michael Fryer November 15, 2011 at 09:40 PM
I just came through the intersection of Brookside and Sycamore Valley Road. In addition to 2 signs "Mother and Daughter killed here. 3 Fatalities so far"; and flower shrines, I saw a Danville policeman on the North side of Brookside doing some measuring. How long does a fatal accident take to investigate? Is there a standard for such a tragic reality?
Glen November 15, 2011 at 09:48 PM
Agreed. I'm sure the police are doing a very thorough investigation since two people are dead, but how long should it take?? Who was driving the car that smashed into and killed these two people and why does the Danville police dept. not want his name published?
Jen November 15, 2011 at 10:29 PM
Has it ever occurred to any of you that Danville Police is being extremely thorough because this will likely be taken to court. We all know what defense attorneys are capable of. They will go through that report to find any inconsistency they can to try to get the driver out of any charges that may be filed.
Glen November 15, 2011 at 10:37 PM
Good point, but I think a few of us are wondering how long this process should take under normal circumstances especially when it's clear the police are still taking measurements on the scene. The other factor here is the police public response has been abysmal so far. No updated information, no idea how long it will take. Should we wait a month, 3 months? It feels like an FBI investigation, which it's not.
abby November 15, 2011 at 10:45 PM
I just passed by there at 2:30 and saw a Motorycle officer writing a motorist - who had just passed the HUGE sign, a ticket...
Glen November 16, 2011 at 12:04 AM
Michael Fryer November 16, 2011 at 12:30 AM
Glen ~ Way to step up!!!!!!! How does one become a follower of your blog?
Geoff Gillette November 16, 2011 at 12:57 AM
Good evening I just wanted to take a few moments and respond to some of the questions that have been raised. While we share your concerns in regards to this traffic accident and the tragic loss of life, an investigation of this type takes time. There is a very meticulous process that must be followed by the police department. Some of the areas of investigation include: • Toxicology tests • Detailed analysis of the crash scene including measurement of sight lines and light levels • Accident reconstruction through metallurgical examination • Momentum analysis to determine relative speeds of vehicles involved Many of these factors involve the scheduling of outside agencies or businesses. In addition, officers still need to be out on the street handling the day-to-day duties of law enforcement. Someone asked how long the average investigation time is on a fatal accident and the answer is generally speaking at least one month. We understand that many of you want an answer right now, but the fact is that we will not have that answer until all aspects of the investigation have been completed. (cont.)
Geoff Gillette November 16, 2011 at 12:57 AM
As far as enforcement is concerned, patrol officers are dispatched to areas where the Police Department has received complaints and they proactively patrol areas where there have been accidents/issues. Officers do not spend their entire shift at any one location; they patrol the geographic sector of the Town to which they have been assigned. The information I gave previously regarding there being 150 miles of road is not intended as an excuse. It is a simple fact that the police have a substantial area to cover. To touch on a few other issues raised: @ Glen – There have been no further statements made because the investigation is not complete. By the same token, that is why the driver’s name was requested to be withheld. It is an active investigation and no charges will be filed unless the investigation determines that a driver violated the law. @ Anony - I passed on your comments to the Town’s Transportation Director. The loophole mentioned that allows speed limits to be changed is in regard to specific geographic issues, such as a blind curve affecting visibility, which constitutes a hazard. Additionally the suggestion regarding flashing lights in the pavement is not allowed under the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices, a federally mandated set of regulations regarding traffic signals.
Geoff Gillette November 16, 2011 at 12:58 AM
In regards to an announcement by a key city official: part of my job as Public Information Coordinator is to monitor news agencies and forums such as this and provide information from the Town as needed. Chief Simpkins and other Town staff are available to discuss issues and concerns with our residents. Any Town staff member can be phoned or e-mailed and we do our best to respond to those communications in as timely a fashion as possible. That does not mean they will be able to answer questions or give comment on the accident investigation until after it is completed. We at the Town of Danville greatly appreciate the thoughts, comments and questions being expressed. We are examining all of the suggestions made in regards to increasing safety on the roadways and we’ll continue to study this as the investigation works toward its conclusion. Thank you, Geoff Gillette Public Information Coordinator Town of Danville
Mom of three November 16, 2011 at 02:50 AM
With all due respect for all of the parties involved in this horrible collision I’d like to point something out. The majority of the above posts are “assuming” the red truck ran the light. Has it ever occurred to anyone that maybe it was the other way around? Maybe the driver of the other vehicle ran the red light on Brookside pulling out onto Sycamore in front of the red truck? Everyone has been so quick to judge in this case, when none of us have any of the facts. I see the reason for with-holding the name of the surviving driver until the investigation is complete. The police & investigators have been out almost every day doing a thorough investigation of the crash. Unfortunately the process takes time. If this was a member(s) of your family you/I would absolutely expect the same thorough investigation. The town of Danville public information officer Geoff Gillette has done very well over the past week to relay information & answer questions in this forum. We as a community need to support the police and town during this investigation. When the investigation is complete the information will be released first directly to the families involved and then the public. With that said I too drive this road daily. It does concern me that so many people are driving like idiots, but I have seen the police presence increase this past week on Sycamore Valley Road. Continued.......
Mom of three November 16, 2011 at 02:51 AM
. This horrible accident has made me personally pay more attention. I take a few extra seconds when the light changes. I’m allowing more time to get my kids to school, which allows more time for me to get to work. As I said previously we are all responsible for our own actions. Pay attention people, slow down, hang up your phones, plan for the unexpected. Obey the traffic signs they are posted for a reason. Tragic events like this remind us WE ALL should be more careful for ourselves and our neighbors.
Norma Kvool November 16, 2011 at 04:07 AM
I commented about with a suggestion of installing "Red light cameras" at this intersection shortly after the accident occurred. I WILL REPEAT, those cameras do work as a deterent and although no electronic device is fool proof, it would have most likely shown right away who ran the red light. A camera won't stop all accidents, but also reducing and enforcing a lower speed limit will prevent future fatal accidents at this intersection. With all the comments, I seem to be the only one suggesting this??????? And there were no followup comments supporting this idea???? I HAVE SEEN THAT THESE CAMERAS WORK in Livermore, Pleasanton, and Castro Valley. I lost a friend a couple years ago to this same kind of accident and feel very sad for the family of that mother and daughter. My heart goes out to them.
Michael Fryer November 16, 2011 at 04:18 AM
Norma ~ I, like many others who live off of Sycamore Valley Road at or near the accident site, have been keeping track of suggestions on Patch comments. Your suggestion re: red light cameras is number 2 on my list. I have been waiting for the official police report to be completed, and for response from The Town of Danville before taking personal action. Patience, in the wake of what could have been the fate of any of us, is very difficult but necessary. I appreciate and support your idea....And await results. Together, we can make change and honor the victims.
Michael Fryer November 16, 2011 at 04:22 AM
Well said! I agree 100%.
Ralph Hoffmann January 20, 2012 at 05:13 PM
Everyone who drives has a known medical condition. If driving were banned in the SF Bay Area, bus service would be greatly improved, increaing safety and good health, saving everyone money, sparing the air, and promoting USA energy independence.


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