Monday, March 10, 2008

CUPERTINO, Calif. -- The Santa Clara County Sheriff's office Monday identified the deputy driving the patrol car that collided with three bicyclists on Sunday in the Cupertino hills, killing two of them, as James Council.

Council, 27, has been a sheriff's deputy for approximately 18 months. He is assigned to the West Valley Patrol Division. On Sunday he began his shift at 6 a.m. and before the accident was scheduled to work until 6:30 p.m. He is currently on paid administrative leave while the accident is being investigated, according to sheriff's office spokesman Don Morrissey.

Authorities said that at approximately 10:25 A.M., Council was traveling northbound on Stevens Canyon Road near Montebello Road in Cupertino when his vehicle struck the bicyclists who were traveling southbound on Stevens Canyon Road, according to the sheriff's office.

Following the crash, Council exited his vehicle, rendered aid and requested emergency medical assistance, county officials reported.

Tragically, one of the bicyclists died at the scene. A second bicyclist was transported via Life Flight to Stanford Medical Center for treatment and died there.

The California Highway Patrol has launched an investigation into the incident.

Witnesses have told police they overheard Council admit to possibly falling asleep at the wheel shortly before the 10:25 a.m. Sunday crash. However, authorities were refusing to speculate what may have caused the accident.

"It's going to be a drawn-out comprehensive investigation," said Don Morrissey, a spokesman for the Sheriff's Department. "It's just a tragic incident. Obviously, it's going to have deep impacts on everybody involved, from the deputy to the victim's family, next of kin, family, friends, everybody like that."

The third bicyclist was taken to Stanford Medical Center with critical injuries, but has since been listed in stable condition, according to Morrissey.

Friends have identified the dead as 30-year-old Kristy Gough of Oakland and Matt Peterson, 29, of San Francisco. Gough competed professionally as a triathlete and only recently had begun to concentrate on cycling.

Peterson, member of the San Francisco-based Roaring Mouse Cycles racing team, had recently won a road racing event in downtown Merced.

The CHP has closed Stevens Canyon Road in both directions from Balboa Road to the entrance to the Stevens Creek Reservoir, Hoover said.

The California Highway Patrol is investigating the accident. The deputy will be placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.


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