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Alameda Co. Probation Officer Charged In Bicyclist’s Death

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(Joel Saget/Getty Images)

(Joel Saget/Getty Images)

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CASTRO VALLEY (CBS SF) — An Alameda County deputy probation officer has been charged with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter for striking and killing a bicyclist with her car on June 15 in Castro Valley, the District Attorney’s Office said Friday.

Eunique Wesley, 32, of San Francisco is scheduled to be arraigned in Alameda County Superior Court in Hayward on Sept. 23, according to District Attorney spokeswoman Teresa Drenick.

The California Highway Patrol said Wesley was driving east on Fairmont Drive near Foothill Boulevard around 9:40 a.m. on June 15 when she looked down, allowing her car to veer to the right.

The 1995 Honda Civic hit Timothy Bucher, a 56-year-old San Leandro man who was also traveling east on Fairmont Drive on his bicycle. He hit his head on the car’s windshield before landing in the roadway, according to the CHP.

Bucher was wearing his helmet but still suffered major injuries. He was taken to Eden Medical Center where he was pronounced dead, according to the CHP.

Wesley was driving about 35 mph at the time of the collision, the CHP said.

Probation Department officials did not respond to an inquiry about whether Wesley is continuing to work for the county.

Dave Campbell, the program director for the East Bay Bicycle Coalition, said the bike group is working with the county’s Public Works Department to put in bike lanes in the area where the accident occurred.

“It’s a wide and hilly road and there’s plenty of room for bike lanes,” Campbell said. “There’s not a space issue.”

John Ackley, a Marin County man who used to live in San Leandro and described Bucher as “one of my dearest friends,” said he’s a strong supporter of the proposal to put bike lanes on Fairmont Drive between Foothill Boulevard and Lake Chabot Road.

Ackley said he believes bike lanes are needed because the section of Fairmont Drive where Bucher was killed lends itself to inattentive driving because it is so wide and lightly traveled.

Bucher, Ackley said, was “a musician and music aficionado who collected musical instruments and bicycles.”

Ackley said Bucher lived in the East Bay his entire life, mostly in San Leandro. Bucher is survived by his wife.

Ackley said the last time he went bike riding with Bucher was on Memorial Day. He said he and Bucher planned to go to a concert the night Bucher was killed.

Ackley said he is “torn” about what the proper punishment should be for Wesley.

He said he has been told by authorities and Bucher’s wife that Wesley crashed into Bucher after she spilled a liquid on her leg, got distracted and momentarily did not watch where she was going.

But Ackley said there’s no evidence that Wesley was under the influence of alcohol or drugs or that she was texting or was on her cellphone.

Wesley “didn’t have any ill intent and was clearly distraught” after the accident, Ackley said.

He said Wesley “will have to look in the mirror every day and realize that her carelessness has cost a life.”

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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