From the Santa Rosa Press Democrat


Published on April 14, 2004
© 2004- The Press Democrat



Cyclists and friends of two South Bay triathletes who were hit in an Easter morning collision expressed outrage Monday over the crash, the first in Sonoma County this year in which a car fatally struck a bicyclist, CHP said.

``It's hard to know what to do with this anger,'' said Mountain View swimming coach Laura Schuster, mourning the death of her 31-year-old colleague Alan Liu.

Liu, an engineer and swim coach from Mountain View, died at the scene Sunday after a car plowed into him on the north shoulder of Highway 12 near Oakmont.

His girlfriend and fellow swimmer, 26-year-old Jill Mason of Cupertino, remained in critical condition at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital. Mason was pedaling about 100 yards ahead of Liu when a 1995 Nissan Sentra, after striking Liu, also hit her and knocked her off her bike, inflicting major head trauma.

Santa Rosan Harvey Hereford, 69, is to appear in court April 26 on charges stemming from the crash. He was released on bail Sunday after being booked into Sonoma County Jail on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter and driving under the influence causing bodily injury.

Results of Hereford's blood alcohol test are pending, CHP Officer Shannon King said. She said he has no prior criminal history in Sonoma County.

Hereford, who moved into Oakmont last year, is an attorney actively listed with the State Bar of California. He could not be reached Monday at his home or San Francisco law office.

``This guy can't get away with this,'' Schuster said of the driver, after notifying many of the 200 swimmers Liu coached about his death. ``For him to be able to walk out of jail is abominable.''

A graduate of MIT, Liu worked at Applied Materials, a Silicon Valley semiconductor equipment maker. Mason and Liu were in Santa Rosa visiting his mother for Easter when they cycled on Highway 12 as part of training for a May triathlon, Schuster said.

Kate Brolan and her partner, Sydney Brown, called 911 Sunday after witnessing the collisions at 11:21 a.m.

The Petaluma women followed Hereford's green sedan out of Pythian Road, after stopping behind him at the Highway 12 intersection. The women said Hereford slowly turned onto Highway 12, but rapidly accelerated westbound, slightly exceeding the posted 50 mph limit.

``Like a shot out of hell ... he just flew,'' Brown said. ``But he was weaving as he went.''

According to CHP, Hereford swerved onto the right shoulder, struck the two cyclists, then pulled over about 300 feet west of the scene.

Brolan and Brown rushed to get blankets to cover the gravely injured Mason, whom they found barely conscious.

``She was shaking and weeping,'' Brolan recalled.

As of Monday afternoon, no formal charges had been filed against Hereford. Chief Deputy District Attorney Larry Scoufos said prosecutors were awaiting investigators' reports.

In a candlelight vigil Monday evening, cyclists organized by the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition pedaled from Old Courthouse Square to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, where Mason was being treated.

``We're devastated that more lives have been lost,'' coalition Executive Director Christine Culver said. ``We have to stop allowing people to get in their cars and make the choice to drive while drunk.''

News Researcher Michele Van Hoeck contributed to this report. You can reach Staff Writer Katy Hillenmeyer at 521-5274 or