Police: Hands-free cell phone at stake for driver in San Ramon crash that killed NFL Knapp | New
The driver who caused the summer crash that killed NFL assistant coach Greg Knapp was looking at his hands-free cell phone as he drifted down the Dougherty Road bike path where Knapp was riding, said a spokesperson for the San Ramon Police Department last week.
On September 20, the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office refused to press charges against the unnamed driver after reviewing the police investigation report, concluding that the driver’s inattention driving was not considered criminal culpability under the law – a decision that has become a flashpoint for cycling groups and bicycle safety advocates across the country.
Responding to the weekly’s follow-up questions on the San Ramon police investigation, Lt. Tami Williams shed additional light on the details of the case findings last week.
Police initially cited the main reason for the crash as being the driver drifting in the signposted cycle lane, an underlying factor being the driver’s inattention.
Williams later confirmed that investigators attributed the inattention to the driver looking at his cell phone, which was not in his hands as prohibited by law, but rather seated in a hands-free position.
The primary collision factor was a 21658 (a) CVC (dangerous lane change) violation. An associated factor was listed as inattention. This inattention factor was attributed to the driver using a hands-free cell phone – glancing at his phone, which was not in his hands, “Williams said via the email.
Williams also clarified that San Ramon Police had not issued a citation to the driver because the case had been referred to county prosecutors for review.
Last week, a spokesperson for a prosecutor’s office declined to answer follow-up questions about the reasoning for the no-charge decision.
This included requests for further clarification on why the traffic violation of a dangerous lane change was not a sufficient legal offense to justify a charge of manslaughter, as well as the issue of whether cell phone use was hands-free – as opposed to hand-held – played a role in their decision.
In a public statement on September 24, a day after the announcement of the absence of charges, the prosecutor’s office said: “The bicycle deaths are devastating events. After a thorough review of the investigation, the office district attorney determined that there was insufficient evidence to meet the required 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 must also be attentive drivers.
Knapp’s family, nor his legal representatives, could be contacted for comment on Sunday afternoon.
The name of the driver, a 22-year-old man from Danville, has not been publicly disclosed to date – San Ramon police citing considerations of confidentiality for the driver since no criminal charges have been filed.
Knapp, 58, was riding his bike on Dougherty Road in eastern San Ramon just north of North Monarch Road at around 2:50 p.m. on July 17 when his bike was struck by a vehicle traveling in the same direction north.
Knapp, who was wearing a helmet and was fully on the bike path, never regained consciousness after the impact of the collision and died in a Walnut Creek hospital on the morning of July 22.
Married, a father of three, and a longtime NFL offensive coach who has maintained an offseason home in neighboring Danville, Knapp was set to begin his first season as a passing specialist for the New York Jets. He previously worked as an offensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers and then the Oakland Raiders.