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George Russell Weller

October 4, 2006 | John Spano, Times Staff Writer
Jurors virtually sat behind George Russell Weller's steering wheel Tuesday, seeing a specially prepared graphic re-creation of his deadly 20-second drive through an open-air market three years ago. With the view that the 86-year-old Weller had through the windshield of his 1992 Buick, jurors could see and feel jarring impacts as he crashed at freeway speeds through the crowded market, striking dozens of stalls and injuring more than 70 people, 10 of them fatally.
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.
September 26, 2006 | John Spano and Michael Muskal, Times Staff Writers
More than an hour after he drove through the Santa Monica Farmers' Market, leaving 10 people dead, George Russell Weller sat in a stark room at the police station shrouded in misery and frustration. "In that course of that one block, I knocked over those stands and hit those people," Weller, then 86, said the day of the 2003 tragedy. "When I finally came to a rest, [I said,] my God, what have I done?"
September 23, 2006 | John Spano, Times Staff Writer
Ten people died because octogenarian George Russell Weller confused the gas pedal with the brakes and raced his big Buick through an open-air market three years ago, a top state accident investigator testified Friday. Bolstering the defense argument that the incident was an accident, not a crime, Richard Wong said the California Highway Patrol investigation he headed came to the conclusion that "pedal error" by Weller, now 89, is the best explanation for the Santa Monica Farmers' Market tragedy.
September 22, 2006 | John Spano, Times Staff Writer
Rich Wong has investigated 9,500 auto accidents in 19 years with the California Highway Patrol, but he testified Thursday that nothing prepared him for what he saw at the Santa Monica Farmers' Market three years ago. "I deal with death every day," said Wong, who headed the CHP investigation. "But this was way above and beyond."
September 21, 2006 | John Spano, Times Staff Writer
George Russell Weller felt he was lucky that he didn't have to pass a driving test the last time his California license was renewed, he told police after he drove through the Santa Monica Farmers' Market, killing 10 people and injuring more than 60 three years ago. Weller, now 89, told police that he took a written test, but wasn't required to show that he could drive safely. "I lucked out," Weller said.
September 15, 2006 | John Spano, Times Staff Writer
A skateboarder who had feared he would be run down by an elderly driver at an open air market in Santa Monica testified Thursday that George Weller looked intent and in control as he drove his car toward hundreds of pedestrians. Alexander Mercer, testifying in blue jeans and shirttails, told jurors that he had been talking to a homeless man on July 16, 2003, seconds before Weller ran the man down. "He was friendly, he was saying hello to people and asking for money," Mercer said.
September 4, 2006 | John Spano, Times Staff Writer
George Russell Weller told police he had no idea how the car he was driving accelerated through a crowded farmers market in Santa Monica more than three years ago. Nor, Weller said within an hour of the incident, did he know how his car came to a stop after leaving nearly 1,000 feet of carnage, 10 people dead and more than 60 injuries in its wake.
July 30, 2006 | Jonathan Abrams, Times Staff Writer
An elderly Altadena motorist who drove his car into a crowded patio outside a Starbucks in El Monte on Friday night probably won't face charges, authorities said Saturday. In an accident reminiscent of the 2003 Santa Monica Farmers' Market crash, Ted Kawashima, 85, apparently mistook his gas pedal for the brake, causing his car to plow into the sidewalk patio filled with patrons.
August 6, 2004
What a colossal waste of taxpayer money for the National Transportation Safety Board to blame metal barriers as a factor in the July 2003 Santa Monica Farmers' Market carnage ("Flimsy Barriers Cited in Crash," Aug. 4). Even worse is the agency's suggestion that cars should now be manufactured with black boxes to analyze accidents, which would certainly increase new car prices. Where is the common sense here? The only black boxes needed are those in which families should lock the keys of elderly and arrogant relatives who insist on driving when they have had recent accidents and their mental acuity is compromised.
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