From the Santa Rosa Press Democrat


Published on April 12, 2004
© 2004- The Press Democrat



A South Bay bicyclist was killed and his companion critically injured Sunday when a Santa Rosa man suspected of being under the influence of alcohol allegedly plowed into them on Highway 12 near Oakmont.

Oakmont resident Harvey Hereford, 69, was taken into custody on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol and causing great bodily injury, officials said. He was not injured.

The Sonoma County coroner's office identified the dead man as 31-year-old Alan Liu of Mountain View, who was thrown from his bike upon impact. A 26-year-old woman who was cycling with Liu suffered major head trauma after also being knocked from her bike. The CHP did not identify her, pending notification of relatives.

The collisions occurred about 11:21 a.m. on Highway 12 near Oakmont. Hereford was driving a green 1995 Nissan Sentra and had turned left out of Pythian Road near his home, heading west on Highway 12.

Witnesses told the CHP that Hereford's vehicle was weaving back and forth in Highway 12's westbound lane at slightly more than 50 mph, the posted limit, when it veered onto the right shoulder where Liu was riding and struck him from behind.

The Nissan continued west on the road's north shoulder 100 feet before hitting the female cyclist. With his windshield badly damaged, Hereford kept driving another 300 feet before stopping, said CHP Officer Shannon King.

``He had not realized that he struck the bicyclists,'' she said.

Deputy Bill Focha, a county officer assigned to the Windsor Police Department, said he came upon the scene while going to work. Focha said he took Hereford's car keys, while an off-duty Vallejo policeman also helped detain Hereford until the CHP arrived.

Liu died from his injuries at the scene, and his companion was taken by ambulance to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital. Her condition was unavailable late Sunday.

Both cyclists were wearing helmets, King said.

The accident slowed traffic on Highway 12 for nearly two hours Sunday, limiting access to one lane.

Cycling enthusiasts described Sunday's fatality as an increasingly rare occurrence in Sonoma County, thanks to growing awareness and accommodation by motorists. But Santa Rosa Cycling Club President Martin Clinton said experienced local riders routinely avoid that stretch of Highway 12 because the shoulder narrows there.

``It's an area where vehicles simply have to yield to cyclists to allow them room to get through that narrow section,'' Clinton said.

Hereford was booked into Sonoma County Jail after a sample of his blood was taken at Sutter Medical Center of Santa Rosa. Test results to determine his blood alcohol level are pending.

Hereford was later released on $30,000 bond.

You can reach Staff Writer Katy Hillenmeyer at 521-5274 or