The Alameda County District Attorney's Office this week charged a Union City man with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter in connection with the collision that killed a Pleasanton man walking his dog across Stoneridge Drive nearly three months ago.
Authorities allege that 73-year-old Parsu Ram Mudaliar was driving over the speed limit and still had plenty of time to notice Mark Fiala in the roadway at the Newton Way intersection, even though the pedestrian was crossing against a don't-walk signal, but did not realize it until fatally striking Fiala that morning.
"A reasonable driver would have been able to perceive and react to a hazard in the roadway, when observed from 400 feet," Pleasanton police Officer Joshua Christensen wrote in a probable cause declaration. "There has been no explanation of why Mudaliar did not see Fiala."
Mudaliar, who is out of custody on the misdemeanor charge, is scheduled to be arraigned in court later this month. It was not immediately clear whether he is yet represented by a defense attorney.
Police argued in Christensen's declaration that the case could have risen to the level of a felony, but prosecutors ultimately determined there was no gross negligence and charged one misdemeanor count when the criminal complaint was filed on Wednesday.
The incident unfolded when 66-year-old Fiala was walking with his dog across Stoneridge Drive from north to south around 6 a.m. May 10 in a neighborhood just east of Santa Rita Road. At that same time, Mudaliar was driving eastbound on Stoneridge at 47 mph in a 40 mph zone, according to Christensen.
Although Fiala crossed into the road against a pedestrian signal in violation of traffic laws, Mudaliar was still required to "exercise due care for the safety of any pedestrian upon a roadway," Christensen wrote, stating the driver had 400 feet to react to the pedestrian in the street in front of him but failed to do so.
The officer noted another driver traveling at 40-45 mph in the opposite direction on Stoneridge Drive at that moment told police he observed Fiala walking into the street about 540 feet away and was able to slow and avoid the pedestrian.
For unknown reasons, Mudaliar never saw Fiala crossing the road, hit him with the front of the car and didn't apply the brakes until the pedestrian landed on the ground, according to Christensen.
"Mudaliar denied being on his phone or being distracted in any other way inside his vehicle," Christensen wrote. "The landscaping, rising sun or weather did not play a role in this collision."
"Based on calculations, this collision would have never happened if Mudaliar was traveling at the correct speed and if he had been aware of his surroundings," the officer added.
Fiala, a longtime local real estate professional and married father with two adult daughters, died at the scene from his injuries.
Police reported at the time that Fiala's dog was also hit and sustained minor injuries, but Christensen's declaration did not mention the pet.
The Pleasanton Police Department's investigation spanned nearly two months before its final report was forwarded to the DA's office on July 9 for review and consideration of charges.
Though Christensen wrote that he thought the case demonstrated "gross negligence," prosecutors in the end determined the evidence supported misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence.
Mudaliar's first court appearance is scheduled for an arraignment on Aug. 31 at 9 a.m. in the East County Hall of Justice in Dublin.
Editor's note: Police initially stated publicly on May 10 that Fiala was crossing Stoneridge Drive in a northbound direction, but Christensen's report said the pedestrian was walking from the northeast corner to the southeast corner.