MENLO PARK (KRON) — A driver, who died while driving on Interstate 101 in Menlo Park on Friday, was possibly hit with a metal object that fell off a Caltrans water truck.
The man died after being struck in the neck by what appears to be a large metal screw-on nozzle cap that came off the back of a Caltrans water truck, Caltrans spokesman Myeast McCauley said.
The cap came off the back of the truck, which was traveling south in the far right lane near Willow Road, somehow flew across several lanes of traffic and broke through Schaefer’s windshield as he was driving in the northbound fast lane, McCauley said.
These kinds of caps are usually secured by a metal chain, McCauley said, and it’s still unclear how it got loose.
After being struck, Schaefer struck the center divider before eventually coming to a stop. No other vehicles were involved.
Since the accident, Schaefer’s family has been besieged with interview requests and issued a brief written statement Monday in the hope that those requests will stop, said family friend Barbara Feder Ostrov.
The CHP investigation into Schaefer’s death is still underway.
“Caltrans offers its deepest condolences to Mr. Schaefer’s family and friends,” McCauley said.
Caltrans released a statement on Sunday.
“A California Highway Patrol preliminary investigation in coordination with Caltrans into Friday’s fatal accident has made an initial determination that the metal object that caused the accident may have come from a Caltrans water truck,” Caltrans said in a statement. “The truck was driving between job sites at the time of the incident. Caltrans will continue to cooperate with CHP as they finish their investigation.
The driver killed has been identified as 82-year-old Louis Schaefer of Mountain View.
The family has issued a statement:
The Schaefer family is grateful to the drivers who pulled over to try to help our father, Louis Schaefer.
We are also grateful for the compassion and professionalism of the California Highway Patrol and the San Mateo County Coroner’s Office.
We are grieving the loss of our father. He was a brilliant electrical engineer who spent most of his career at SRI International in Menlo Park.
Family members will not be holding a press conference or giving interviews.
We have no further comment at this time and ask that our privacy be respected.