Multi-county car pursuit ends in Los Altos Hills with crash

A multi-county vehicle pursuit that blocked traffic on Interstate 280 for more than an hour Tuesday (March 17) ended in Los Altos Hills when the driver's SUV overturned on the freeway, according to California Highway Patrol reports.

No injuries were reported during the incident, but suspect Ramon Bernal of Davis was transported to Stanford Medical Center as a precautionary procedure. The 24-year-old was later booked into the Santa Clara County Main Jail on charges of felony evasion of a peace officer and driving under the influence of drugs, according to CHP Officer Ross Lee.

The chase began near Vacaville at approximately 2 p.m. when a CHP officer observed Bernal's gold Nissan Pathfinder speeding westbound on Interstate 80, near Interstate 505. The officer attempted a traffic stop, according to CHP reports, but Bernal ¬ – the sole occupant of the vehicle – failed to yield. He continued driving at speeds between 80 and 95 mph onto Interstate 680 southbound, where a spike strip deflated the SUV's tires, and then onto 280 northbound.

By the time Bernal reached 280 near Magdalena Avenue, the SUV's tires had disintegrated to the point that the front of the vehicle came in contact with the roadway, according to CHP reports. He drove the SUV onto the center median, struck a dirt embankment and lost control. The vehicle flipped once before coming to a rest upright, and Bernal was able to exit the SUV on his own. CHP officers took him into custody without incident.

Northbound 280 traffic flow returned to normal levels by 5 p.m. Tuesday.

MVLA tenure denial generates tears, questions about process

Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Mountain View High students wield signs professing their support for drama teacher Rob Seitelman, who was denied tenure by the district.

Last week’s denial of permanent employee status to a Mountain View High School drama and English teacher left his students in sobs and their parents furious.

The announcement also led to questions concerning how the high school equivalent of the tenure process works and how a beloved instructor might be deemed unworthy of the designation.


Council axes First Street development moratorium

Alicia Castro/Town Crier
The Downtown Buildings Committee’s walkabout in downtown Los Altos Sunday draws a crowd of local residents eager to weigh in on First Street development.

The Los Altos City Council has scrapped the idea of freezing First Street development.

The proposal, voted on at the March 10 council meeting, failed to secure the required four votes for approval. Three of the five councilmembers were poised to approve the moratorium at Tuesday’s meeting, but a four-vote threshold applies to measures that are fast-tracked.


Council skeptical of El Camino bus project metrics and merits

Town Crier File Photo
The Los Altos City Council sent a message to the Valley Transportation Authority voicing its concerns about bus lanes on El Camino Real.

With the El Camino Real Bus Rapid Transit Project on schedule for 2018 construction, the Los Altos City Council is concerned local input may be left at the curb.

“It just feels like this bus is running down the street here, and we’re trying to catch it and have some influence on what might happen,” said Mayor Jan Pepper at the March 10 council meeting. “And it doesn’t really feel like that’s going to happen.”


LASD halts committee bond work, seeks more information

The Los Altos School District Board of Trustees suspended Facilities Master Plan Committee (FMPC) meetings last week after requesting more information from district staff before providing further direction to the committee.

The 26-member FMPC has met twice a month since September to evaluate options for addressing enrollment growth in the district. Since passage of the $150 million Measure N bond in November, the committee has reviewed scenarios for spending the funds.


Interstate 280 closures continue

Nighttime pavement work will intermittently close lanes and ramps on Interstate 280 in the vicinity of Los Altos Hills throughout the spring.

Construction is limited to between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. weekdays and 8 p.m. and noon weekends. Watch for changing closure and detour signs for the next few months as the work progresses. One lane of travel will remain open on 280 at all times in each direction, and exit closures will be staggered to minimize impact.


Police Blotter

Los Altos police, K-9 help nab carjackers

Los Altos Police helped wrangle two carjacking suspects near the Los Altos-Sunnyvale border March 12.

San Jose Police officers responded to a 12:04 a.m. report of a carjacking in San Jose. The victim, who was uninjured, said two men fled in his vehicle. San Jose Police tracked the vehicle using the victim’s cellphone, which was still in his car. The San Jose Police Department requested assistance from Los Altos Police, including K-9 Lord and Lord’s handler Julie Ognoskie, to establish a search perimeter.


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