News

Police: Cellphone (hands-free) at play for driver in San Ramon crash that killed NFL's Knapp

DA's office declined to file criminal charges in cyclist's death last month

The driver who caused the summertime crash that killed NFL assistant coach Greg Knapp was glancing at his hands-free cellphone at the time he drifted into the Dougherty Road bicycle lane where Knapp was riding, a San Ramon police spokesperson said last week.

Greg Knapp, 58, died five days after being hit by a vehicle while cycling on Dougherty Road in July 2021. (Photo courtesy of New York Jets)

The Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office on Sept. 20 declined to file criminal charges against the yet-unnamed driver after reviewing the police investigation report, concluding the driver's inattention behind the wheel did not rise to criminal culpability under the law -- a decision that has become a flashpoint for cycling groups and bicycle safety advocates across the country.

Responding to follow-up questions from the Weekly about the San Ramon police investigation, Lt. Tami Williams shed additional light onto the specifics of the case findings last week.

Police initially cited the primary reason for the crash to be the driver drifting into the marked bike lane, with an underlying factor being driver inattention.

Williams subsequently confirmed that investigators attributed the inattention to the driver looking at his cellphone, which wasn't in his hands as prohibited by law but rather sitting in a hands-free position.

What's local journalism worth to you?

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

Join

"The primary collision factor was a violation of 21658(a) CVC (unsafe lane change). An associated factor was listed as inattention. This inattention factor was attributed to the driver using a hands free cellular phone -- glancing at his phone, which wasn't in his hands," Williams said via email.

Williams also clarified that San Ramon police did not issue a traffic citation to the driver because the case was referred to county prosecutors for consideration.

A DA's office spokesperson last week declined to answer follow-up questions about the reasoning for the no-charges decision.

That included requests for further clarification about why the traffic violation of an unsafe lane change was not enough of a legal violation to support a manslaughter charge, as well as whether the cellphone use being hands-free -- as opposed to held-in-hand -- played a role in their decision.

In a public statement on Sept. 24, a day after news of no charges broke, the DA's office said, "Bicycle fatalities are devastating events. Following thorough review of the investigation, the Office of the District Attorney has determined that there is insufficient evidence to satisfy the requisite standard of criminal negligence on the part of the suspect driver. The dangers of distracted driving are well known; to truly promote road safety, motorists need to be attentive drivers as well."

Stay informed

Get the latest local news and information sent straight to your inbox.

Stay informed

Get the latest local news and information sent straight to your inbox.

Knapp's family, nor their legal representatives, could be reached for comment as of Sunday afternoon.

The name of the driver, a 22-year-old man from Danville, has not been revealed publicly to date -- with San Ramon police citing privacy considerations for the driver since no criminal charges were filed.

Knapp, 58, was riding his bicycle on Dougherty Road in eastern San Ramon just north of North Monarch Road around 2:50 p.m. July 17 when his bicycle was struck by a vehicle traveling in the same northbound direction.

Knapp, who was wearing a helmet and fully within the bike lane, never regained consciousness after the impact of the collision and died at a Walnut Creek hospital on the morning of July 22.

A married father of three daughters and longtime NFL offensive coach who maintained an offseason home in neighboring Danville, Knapp was set to begin his first season as passing game specialist for the New York Jets. He previously worked as offensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers and then-Oakland Raiders.

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

Get uninterrupted access to important local crime news. Become a member today.

Police: Cellphone (hands-free) at play for driver in San Ramon crash that killed NFL's Knapp

DA's office declined to file criminal charges in cyclist's death last month

by / Pleasanton Weekly

Uploaded: Sun, Oct 3, 2021, 5:10 pm

The driver who caused the summertime crash that killed NFL assistant coach Greg Knapp was glancing at his hands-free cellphone at the time he drifted into the Dougherty Road bicycle lane where Knapp was riding, a San Ramon police spokesperson said last week.

The Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office on Sept. 20 declined to file criminal charges against the yet-unnamed driver after reviewing the police investigation report, concluding the driver's inattention behind the wheel did not rise to criminal culpability under the law -- a decision that has become a flashpoint for cycling groups and bicycle safety advocates across the country.

Responding to follow-up questions from the Weekly about the San Ramon police investigation, Lt. Tami Williams shed additional light onto the specifics of the case findings last week.

Police initially cited the primary reason for the crash to be the driver drifting into the marked bike lane, with an underlying factor being driver inattention.

Williams subsequently confirmed that investigators attributed the inattention to the driver looking at his cellphone, which wasn't in his hands as prohibited by law but rather sitting in a hands-free position.

"The primary collision factor was a violation of 21658(a) CVC (unsafe lane change). An associated factor was listed as inattention. This inattention factor was attributed to the driver using a hands free cellular phone -- glancing at his phone, which wasn't in his hands," Williams said via email.

Williams also clarified that San Ramon police did not issue a traffic citation to the driver because the case was referred to county prosecutors for consideration.

A DA's office spokesperson last week declined to answer follow-up questions about the reasoning for the no-charges decision.

That included requests for further clarification about why the traffic violation of an unsafe lane change was not enough of a legal violation to support a manslaughter charge, as well as whether the cellphone use being hands-free -- as opposed to held-in-hand -- played a role in their decision.

In a public statement on Sept. 24, a day after news of no charges broke, the DA's office said, "Bicycle fatalities are devastating events. Following thorough review of the investigation, the Office of the District Attorney has determined that there is insufficient evidence to satisfy the requisite standard of criminal negligence on the part of the suspect driver. The dangers of distracted driving are well known; to truly promote road safety, motorists need to be attentive drivers as well."

Knapp's family, nor their legal representatives, could be reached for comment as of Sunday afternoon.

The name of the driver, a 22-year-old man from Danville, has not been revealed publicly to date -- with San Ramon police citing privacy considerations for the driver since no criminal charges were filed.

Knapp, 58, was riding his bicycle on Dougherty Road in eastern San Ramon just north of North Monarch Road around 2:50 p.m. July 17 when his bicycle was struck by a vehicle traveling in the same northbound direction.

Knapp, who was wearing a helmet and fully within the bike lane, never regained consciousness after the impact of the collision and died at a Walnut Creek hospital on the morning of July 22.

A married father of three daughters and longtime NFL offensive coach who maintained an offseason home in neighboring Danville, Knapp was set to begin his first season as passing game specialist for the New York Jets. He previously worked as offensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers and then-Oakland Raiders.

Comments

SteveO
Registered user
Country Fair
on Oct 3, 2021 at 7:54 pm
SteveO, Country Fair
Registered user
on Oct 3, 2021 at 7:54 pm

There might not be a criminal prosecution, but these circumstances support a civil wrongful death lawsuit. This is very similar to the case "Louise Olin v. County of Los Angeles". Put that case name into Google. The plaintiff there was the surviving wife of a man who was killed while riding a bicycle by an inattentive driver who was texting and using a laptop. That case settled for $12,000,000 for the surviving wife. The surviving wife in that case was represented by a well known firm in LA, and that information is all online. The surviving wife of Greg Knapp has a very clear cut civil lawsuit claim against the driver who killed her husband. It is as close to a "slam dunk" that you can get in civil litigation. Nothing can bring Greg Knapp back to life. A criminal prosecution would not do that. A civil lawsuit victory would not do that. All that the law can provide at this point is financial compensation.


Jo
Registered user
Del Prado
on Oct 4, 2021 at 8:17 am
Jo, Del Prado
Registered user
on Oct 4, 2021 at 8:17 am

sounds like we need "eyes free" too

Anyways I have doubt this perp didn't have it in his hands, but there is no way to prove it...so point is mute.

I'd like to see some criminal charges personally... it's high time.


PLSN Resident
Registered user
Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 4, 2021 at 9:34 am
PLSN Resident, Another Pleasanton neighborhood
Registered user
on Oct 4, 2021 at 9:34 am

No charges for this 22 year old whose name won't be released... wonder if he has some famous/rich/connected parents or friends??


Pleasanton Parent
Registered user
Pleasanton Meadows
on Oct 4, 2021 at 5:59 pm
Pleasanton Parent, Pleasanton Meadows
Registered user
on Oct 4, 2021 at 5:59 pm

If mr Kou can sue dusd for the death of his wife, this is a “slam dunk”


Gene
Registered user
Happy Valley
on Oct 11, 2021 at 10:07 am
Gene, Happy Valley
Registered user
on Oct 11, 2021 at 10:07 am

A bicyclist doesn't just pop up out of nowhere, especially if he/she is riding along in the bike lane. The driver should have seen the bicyclist from several hundred feet away and taken precautions to prevent getting close to the bicycle. Getting away with the excuse that he "glanced" at his phone as justification for killing a bicyclists is 1) wholly unbelievable and 2) just plain wrong for society to accept this. The driver clearly didn't give right of way to the bicyclist. As someone else on this thread noted, its open season on bicyclists with full support of our local DA


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.