News

Dublin: No charges in on-campus crash that killed DUSD's Catherine Kuo

Authorities conclude SUV wasn't put properly in park, but doesn't rise to criminal negligence

Late DUSD trustee Catherine Kuo seen here in the board chambers on March 23, the night before her death, as she participated in the school board's first in-person meeting since the pandemic began. (Photo courtesy of DUSD)

The driver whose vehicle fatally struck Dublin Unified School District trustee Catherine Kuo during a volunteer event on campus earlier this spring will not face criminal charges, according to authorities.

A nearly seven-week investigation concluded the woman -- who has not been publicly identified -- failed to properly put her SUV into the park gear while stopped in the queue at the food distribution event at Fallon Middle School on March 24, but prosecutors determined her actions in the fatal crash did not rise to criminal negligence, according to Dublin police Capt. Nate Schmidt.

Catherine Kuo. (Photo courtesy of DUSD)

"It's just a complete tragedy, and definitely an accident. No intent that was found," Schmidt told the Weekly on Tuesday. "Just inattention, really is what it was."

Kuo, a second-year school board member and married mother of two, died at an area hospital soon after she was mortally injured while volunteering at Fallon to distribute food available to residents in need through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's "Farmers to Families Food Box Program." She was 48.

Police reported at the time that Kuo was standing behind a parked Tesla sedan with its trunk open to receive a food box around 11:45 a.m. when a BMW SUV in the designated pickup queue behind them drove forward and hit Kuo from behind, pinning the DUSD trustee between the two vehicles.

What's local journalism worth to you?

Support PleasantonWeekly.com for as little as $5/month.

Join

Detectives later determined that Kuo appeared to be bending down and standing a bit behind the parked Tesla, causing her to be pushed forward by the SUV and pinned while in a falling motion, according to Schmidt.

The ensuing Dublin Police Services investigation concluded that the BMW driver was at fault, though the forward acceleration was inadvertent.

"Based upon the evidence available, the statements of the involved parties and witnesses and the circumstances surrounding the collision, the driver of the vehicle was found at fault for the collision due to 'other improper driving,'" he said. "The driver failed to exercise due care in properly securing her vehicle in 'park' while stopped in the rear paved lot of Fallon Middle School while in close proximity to pedestrians walking around and between vehicles."

The case evidence was forwarded to the Alameda County District Attorney's Office for review, as is typical in traffic fatalities, Schmidt said. Prosecutors completed their analysis late last week and determined no criminal charges would be filed against the driver.

"After a thorough review of all the facts and evidence, the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office declined to file criminal charges in this case," the DA's office told the Weekly.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox.

Even with the case closed, Schmidt declined to release the driver's name for privacy reasons, saying it is not considered public record because no arrest was made. That policy is common for traffic collision investigations in the Tri-Valley where criminal charges aren't filed.

Schmidt did confirm that the driver was an adult and properly licensed.

The suddenness of Kuo's death rocked the Dublin community, with the traumatic nature only compounding the loss of a revered public servant.

Kuo was a professional business analyst with nearly a decade worth of school volunteer experience when she won the Trustee Area 3 seat in a special election in November 2019. She then earned a full four-year term last fall after being unchallenged for re-election.

The DUSD Board of Trustees is scheduled to hold public interviews tonight to select Kuo's successor as Area 3 representative. The candidate list includes the late trustee's widower William Kuo and residents Taji Brown and John Wu. The appointee will serve an abbreviated term, until DUSD's next regular election in November 2022.

Follow PleasantonWeekly.com and the Pleasanton Weekly on Twitter @pleasantonnews, Facebook and on Instagram @pleasantonweekly for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Stay informed on important law enforcement news. Sign up for our FREE daily Express newsletter.

Dublin: No charges in on-campus crash that killed DUSD's Catherine Kuo

Authorities conclude SUV wasn't put properly in park, but doesn't rise to criminal negligence

by / Pleasanton Weekly

Uploaded: Tue, May 18, 2021, 4:03 pm

The driver whose vehicle fatally struck Dublin Unified School District trustee Catherine Kuo during a volunteer event on campus earlier this spring will not face criminal charges, according to authorities.

A nearly seven-week investigation concluded the woman -- who has not been publicly identified -- failed to properly put her SUV into the park gear while stopped in the queue at the food distribution event at Fallon Middle School on March 24, but prosecutors determined her actions in the fatal crash did not rise to criminal negligence, according to Dublin police Capt. Nate Schmidt.

"It's just a complete tragedy, and definitely an accident. No intent that was found," Schmidt told the Weekly on Tuesday. "Just inattention, really is what it was."

Kuo, a second-year school board member and married mother of two, died at an area hospital soon after she was mortally injured while volunteering at Fallon to distribute food available to residents in need through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's "Farmers to Families Food Box Program." She was 48.

Police reported at the time that Kuo was standing behind a parked Tesla sedan with its trunk open to receive a food box around 11:45 a.m. when a BMW SUV in the designated pickup queue behind them drove forward and hit Kuo from behind, pinning the DUSD trustee between the two vehicles.

Detectives later determined that Kuo appeared to be bending down and standing a bit behind the parked Tesla, causing her to be pushed forward by the SUV and pinned while in a falling motion, according to Schmidt.

The ensuing Dublin Police Services investigation concluded that the BMW driver was at fault, though the forward acceleration was inadvertent.

"Based upon the evidence available, the statements of the involved parties and witnesses and the circumstances surrounding the collision, the driver of the vehicle was found at fault for the collision due to 'other improper driving,'" he said. "The driver failed to exercise due care in properly securing her vehicle in 'park' while stopped in the rear paved lot of Fallon Middle School while in close proximity to pedestrians walking around and between vehicles."

The case evidence was forwarded to the Alameda County District Attorney's Office for review, as is typical in traffic fatalities, Schmidt said. Prosecutors completed their analysis late last week and determined no criminal charges would be filed against the driver.

"After a thorough review of all the facts and evidence, the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office declined to file criminal charges in this case," the DA's office told the Weekly.

Even with the case closed, Schmidt declined to release the driver's name for privacy reasons, saying it is not considered public record because no arrest was made. That policy is common for traffic collision investigations in the Tri-Valley where criminal charges aren't filed.

Schmidt did confirm that the driver was an adult and properly licensed.

The suddenness of Kuo's death rocked the Dublin community, with the traumatic nature only compounding the loss of a revered public servant.

Kuo was a professional business analyst with nearly a decade worth of school volunteer experience when she won the Trustee Area 3 seat in a special election in November 2019. She then earned a full four-year term last fall after being unchallenged for re-election.

The DUSD Board of Trustees is scheduled to hold public interviews tonight to select Kuo's successor as Area 3 representative. The candidate list includes the late trustee's widower William Kuo and residents Taji Brown and John Wu. The appointee will serve an abbreviated term, until DUSD's next regular election in November 2022.

Comments

Kerrie Chabot
Registered user
Dublin
on May 19, 2021 at 12:56 am
Kerrie Chabot, Dublin
Registered user
on May 19, 2021 at 12:56 am

Catherine's husband William Kuo was appointed tonight. He will continue Catherine's term on Dublin School Board. She is dearly missed.


been there
Registered user
Del Prado
on May 19, 2021 at 11:00 am
been there, Del Prado
Registered user
on May 19, 2021 at 11:00 am

Isn't this actually vehicular manslaughter?
n. the crime of causing the death of a human being due to illegal driving of an automobile, including gross negligence, drunk driving, reckless driving, or speeding. Vehicular manslaughter can be charged as a misdemeanor (minor crime with a maximum punishment of a year in county jail or only a fine) or a felony (punishable by a term in state prison) depending on the circumstances. Gross negligence or driving a few miles over the speed limit might be charged as a misdemeanor, but drunk driving resulting in a fatality is most likely treated as a felony. Death of a passenger, including a loved one or friend, can be vehicular manslaughter if due to illegal driving.


FrequentWalkerMiles
Registered user
Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 19, 2021 at 4:21 pm
FrequentWalkerMiles, Another Pleasanton neighborhood
Registered user
on May 19, 2021 at 4:21 pm

“while volunteering at Fallon to distribute food available to residents in need through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's "Farmers to Families Food Box Program."…

“Police reported at the time that Kuo was standing behind a parked Tesla sedan with its trunk open to receive a food box around 11:45 a.m. when a BMW SUV in the designated pickup queue behind them drove forward and hit Kuo from behind, pinning the DUSD trustee between the two vehicles”

People driving Tesla’s and BMWs to pick up food intended for those in need. 2021 Dublin is wild, y’all.


N
Registered user
Dublin
on May 20, 2021 at 4:38 am
N, Dublin
Registered user
on May 20, 2021 at 4:38 am

(removed - inappropriate)


Pleasanton Parent
Registered user
Pleasanton Meadows
on May 21, 2021 at 2:30 pm
Pleasanton Parent, Pleasanton Meadows
Registered user
on May 21, 2021 at 2:30 pm

FrequentWalkerMiles,
You should read up on the program, the program was providing food to subsidize farming during the pandemic, essentially ensuring that farming remained viable - it had nothing to do with providing certain need groups with food. The program was open to all.

Read up before you judge.


Long-time Pleasanton
Registered user
Pleasanton Valley
on May 27, 2021 at 4:33 pm
Long-time Pleasanton, Pleasanton Valley
Registered user
on May 27, 2021 at 4:33 pm

Pleasanton Parent -

From the USDA program page its clear that the program is for "those in need."
Please read the Letter to Stakeholders
Web Link


Pleasanton Parent
Registered user
Pleasanton Meadows
on May 27, 2021 at 8:03 pm
Pleasanton Parent, Pleasanton Meadows
Registered user
on May 27, 2021 at 8:03 pm

Long time Pleasanton

Read beyond the first paragraph and find the qualifying requirements....hint, there are none. Check the faqs no qualifications for who can be a recipient of the program. Your opinion of who qualifies and who actually does are not the same.

Web Link


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Post a comment

In order to encourage respectful and thoughtful discussion, commenting on stories is available to those who are registered users. If you are already a registered user and the commenting form is not below, you need to log in. If you are not registered, you can do so here.

Please make sure your comments are truthful, on-topic and do not disrespect another poster. Don't be snarky or belittling. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

See our announcement about requiring registration for commenting.