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Elderly Drivers

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CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
July 19, 2003 | David Haldane, Times Staff Writer
Dale Borshell remembers talking with her 82-year-old mother early Thursday about the tragic accident the day before in which 10 people died when an 86-year-old driver plowed through a Santa Monica farmers market. "She said she thought it was terrible," Borshell, of Woodland Hills, recalled. "She said that that's why she wouldn't drive if she weren't feeling well."
ARTICLES BY DATE
OPINION
October 24, 2006
Re "Driver Guilty of Felony in Market Crash," Oct. 21 A just verdict was delivered in the George Russell Weller case. The families of the victims deserved such vindication on behalf of their loved ones. The verdict should serve notice on the Department of Motor Vehicles, which has renewed the licenses of incompetent elderly drivers without sufficient testing, and municipalities like Santa Monica, which negligently allowed its farmers market to be operated in the street, without adequate safety barriers.
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CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
July 2, 2000
Re "Motorcycle Deputy, 36, Dies of Injuries From Accident," June 26: The tragic death of Orange County Sheriff's Deputy Steve Parsons brings to mind the very sensitive issue of restricted driving privileges for the elderly. One cannot ignore the fact that this accident would not have happened had the 77-year-old driver actually seen the traffic signal. It is a shocking and extremely lame excuse, particularly in light of the tragedy that it caused. On our freeways, accidents are caused every day by bad drivers, and good drivers are often bullied by aggressive drivers.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
October 6, 2006 | John Spano, Times Staff Writer
Jurors should believe dozens of Santa Monica residents who saw George Weller repeatedly turn the wheel, hit the brakes, and accelerate his car through a farmers' market three years ago, the prosecutor said Thursday. If Weller could see and steer, he could have stopped before killing 10 pedestrians, Deputy Dist. Atty. Ann Ambrose said in closing arguments in Weller's manslaughter trial. The prosecution closed its case against Weller, now 89, on Thursday.
OPINION
August 8, 1999
The statistics are undeniable: As motorists advance through their 70s they are increasingly likely to have accidents. The incidence increases between 75 and 79 and climbs steeply after that. The accident rate for drivers 85 and older is far higher than that of teenagers. Considering that record, it's reasonable to subject older drivers to more frequent and intense examinations. But there is strong opposition to a bill sponsored by Sen. Tom Hayden (D-Los Angeles) to do that.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
January 27, 1999
Sen. Tom Hayden today plans to announce legislation to toughen license renewal requirements for elderly drivers. Hayden's proposal is partly in response to an accident last year in which a Santa Monica teenager was fatally struck in a crosswalk by a 96-year-old driver, said Rocky Rushing, the senator's chief of staff. Hayden wants to bar anyone who is legally blind--those with corrected vision worse than 20/200--from driving.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
August 31, 2000 | GREG RISLING and SOLOMON MOORE, SPECIAL TO THE TIMES
A 91-year-old driver who backed into a San Fernando Valley bank lobby and killed a 1-year-old boy said Wednesday that he won't drive again but disagreed with those who say some people are simply too old to drive. "I don't want to drive anymore because of what happened at the bank," Val Conrad said the day after the fatal accident. "I'm very shook up about it and would rather not be on the road anymore." In the past, Conrad said, he has ignored those who told him he was too old to drive.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
September 8, 1992 | TERRY SPENCER
Scam artists have used scare tactics to con at least four elderly drivers out of hundreds of dollars for phony emergency repairs in the past month, Anaheim police said. According to authorities, the scam artists drove alongside the women as they sat in traffic or at a stop light. Then, the men yelled that the women's cars were about to catch fire or that wheels were loose.
OPINION
January 9, 2004
Re "Driver Who Killed 10 Is Charged," Jan. 6: The deaths of the people at the Santa Monica Farmers' Market as well as the fate of the driver is tragic. In the desire for accountability, real culpability may be better placed with lawmakers and Department of Motor Vehicles officials, who should set standards and means of enforcement regarding the revocation of licenses for elderly people with diminishing facilities. This horrible event should be raising a much larger issue than who was at fault on that particular day. This is a true public safety concern that must be dealt with in a broad manner.
OPINION
July 26, 2003
Re "Probe of Market Tragedy Continues," July 23: In the 35 years I have been an insurance broker, I have handled many auto accident claims. Almost all of these involved younger people, who had to pay a higher rate. Older clients paid standard premiums. It's true that older people become less physically efficient, but they compensate in their driving. They drive less; they drive more slowly; they drive more carefully; they drive less at night. If it gets to the point that they shouldn't be driving, usually friends, doctors and relatives encourage them to give up driving.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
September 30, 2006 | John Spano, Times Staff Writer
George Russell Weller showed the classic symptoms of pedal error and panic when he drove through an open-air market in Santa Monica three years ago, killing 10 people and injuring more than 60, jurors were told Friday. During testimony in Weller's manslaughter trial, Richard Schmidt, a professor of psychology specializing in motor function and control, used basketball star Shaquille O'Neal's notorious inability to shoot free throws to explain part of the incident.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
January 18, 2005 | Zeke Minaya, Times Staff Writer
After his elderly father-in-law had three car accidents, Gerald Mermelstein knew it was time to take the car keys. "We weren't very nice about it," Mermelstein said. "We just said we're taking them away." Now Mermelstein, 75, may face an erosion of his own driving skills as he ages. "I hope I'll be intelligent enough to know when it's too much," he said. "I hope I understand." To help seniors keep track of their driving ability, the American Automobile Assn.
OPINION
January 17, 2004
I read "He May Be Responsible but He's Not Guilty," by Robert Bones (Commentary, Jan. 11), with interest. This case is reminiscent of a case I was involved in some years ago. I am a police sergeant in a suburban city. An elderly woman was driving her car and ran a red light. In the ensuing accident, her passenger and lifelong friend was killed. The woman driving was distraught beyond words. It was clearly a case of manslaughter, but would justice and the community be served by prosecuting this elderly woman?
OPINION
January 9, 2004
Re "Driver Who Killed 10 Is Charged," Jan. 6: The deaths of the people at the Santa Monica Farmers' Market as well as the fate of the driver is tragic. In the desire for accountability, real culpability may be better placed with lawmakers and Department of Motor Vehicles officials, who should set standards and means of enforcement regarding the revocation of licenses for elderly people with diminishing facilities. This horrible event should be raising a much larger issue than who was at fault on that particular day. This is a true public safety concern that must be dealt with in a broad manner.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
January 5, 2004 | Anna Gorman, Times Staff Writer
George Russell Weller rarely leaves his home and shuns the community activities that once filled his life. He is hooked up to an intravenous line 24 hours a day. Since he drove through the Santa Monica Farmers' Market in July, killing 10 people and injuring 63, Weller has been hospitalized three times. Doctors implanted a pacemaker after discovering a heart condition and then removed it because of an infection.
OPINION
December 22, 2003
Re "Charges Sought in Market Tragedy," Dec. 18: It is beyond my comprehension sometimes how our justice system works. Here is a gentleman who at the time of this horrific accident was 86 years old. Testimonials given on his behalf by family and friends portrayed an upstanding citizen who had given back to his community and lived a law-abiding life. Clearly what happened that awful day was an accident. Now the chief of police for Santa Monica wants to extract one more ounce of blood and waste the taxpayers' money and have 10 counts of manslaughter filed against this man. Does no one think this man is suffering every day of his life over the pain he has caused all these people and their families?
NEWS
May 6, 1990 | JOHN F. BONFATTI, ASSOCIATED PRESS
Lonnie (Layne) Hall lives alone in his house on the outskirts of this village, so his driver's license is also his ticket to independence. The license says he is 110. He insists that he is five years younger. Either way, he is New York's oldest driver, according to the state Department of Motor Vehicles. "How many times a week do I go out driving?" said Hall. "Oh, whenever I have to--maybe once or twice. I take my laundry out. I buy my groceries."
OPINION
January 17, 2004
I read "He May Be Responsible but He's Not Guilty," by Robert Bones (Commentary, Jan. 11), with interest. This case is reminiscent of a case I was involved in some years ago. I am a police sergeant in a suburban city. An elderly woman was driving her car and ran a red light. In the ensuing accident, her passenger and lifelong friend was killed. The woman driving was distraught beyond words. It was clearly a case of manslaughter, but would justice and the community be served by prosecuting this elderly woman?
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 4, 2003 | Carl Ingram, Anna Gorman and Martha Groves, Times Staff Writers
Human error was the only possible cause of the summer tragedy at the Santa Monica Farmers' Market when an elderly man drove through a crowd of shoppers, killing 10 people, according to a California Highway Patrol report obtained by The Times. The preliminary report leaves the decision on whether to criminally charge the driver, 86-year-old George Russell Weller, to Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley. A spokesman for Cooley's office said any decision was several weeks away.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
September 2, 2003
A car with an elderly man at the wheel lurched out of control and hit four pedestrians Monday afternoon on a crowded Santa Cruz wharf. Two victims, including a 92-year-old woman, were airlifted to a San Jose trauma center after the vehicle jolted forward and then abruptly reversed, officials said. A 6-year-old Wyoming boy was treated at the scene and an 82-year-old woman was taken to a hospital by ambulance.
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