Man faces murder charge in hit-and-run fatality

Brian Rathgen, 45, facing slew of additional charges following collisions in Sunnyvale and Los Altos

The Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office has filed charges including murder and assault with a deadly weapon against a San Jose man suspected of killing a pedestrian and injuring two other people with his car Saturday afternoon, March 31.

Brian Rathgen, 45, turned himself in to police after allegedly fleeing the scene of collisions in Sunnyvale and Los Altos, according to the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety.

In the first collision, reported at 12:21 p.m., Sunnyvale police said 59-year-old Edgar Quiroz and 64-year-old Camille Beaumont were crossing Hollenbeck Avenue at Danforth Drive when Rathgen struck them in the crosswalk, seriously injuring both. Emergency responders arrived to find the victims lying in the intersection and transported Quiroz and Beaumont to Stanford Hospital, Sunnyvale police said.

Shortly after the first collision, at 12:30 p.m., a black, two-door Acura Integra hit a Volvo SUV in Los Altos on Foothill Expressway and Main Street. The Acura had been traveling north in the southbound lane, according to Sgt. Cameron Shearer of the Los Altos Police Department. Rathgen, who was driving the Acura, turned abruptly to avoid oncoming traffic and struck the Volvo's rear passenger-side panel.

The Volvo was driven by a Cupertino woman who complained of chest pain and was transported to El Camino Hospital in Mountain View, Shearer said. The Acura was disabled in that collision. Rathgen allegedly fled the scene on foot, crossing through Shoup Park, wading through a stream and continuing up a hill into Los Altos Hills, Shearer said. Sunnyvale investigators met Los Altos police at the scene and pursued Rathgen.

Aided by a K-9 unit, police believed they were closing in on Rathgen when he called police and turned himself in, Shearer said. Rathgen was taken into custody, but while in a holding cell at the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety, he allegedly became combative and assaulted four officers who were attempting to restrain him, injuring one officer's hand, Sunnyvale police said.

During a police interview, Rathgen reportedly waived his Miranda rights and said he had struck the two pedestrians in Sunnyvale intentionally, Sunnyvale police said. He also allegedly admitted to driving the wrong way on Foothill Expressway, colliding with the Volvo SUV and fleeing the scene, Sunnyvale and Los Altos police said.

Quiroz died after being taken off life support on April 2. Beaumont remains in critical condition in a medically induced coma, Sunnyvale police said. Los Altos police have not released the name of the third victim.

Rathgen has been charged with 10 counts in all, including murder, assault with a deadly weapon, two counts of hit-and-run resulting in permanent serious injury or death, hit-and-run driving causing property damage, four counts of battery on a peace officer, and one count of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, according to the district attorney's office. Rathgen was arraigned Wednesday in Santa Clara County Superior Court in Palo Alto.

— Bay City News Service


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Liz
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 5, 2012 at 2:20 pm

Has anyone noticed that there are a lot of people going nuts lately? We've got the stewardess and the airline pilot loosing it, then the guy in SF killing 5 people, the guy killing 7 at the school in Oakland and this guy... Is it just me, or is this just a huge coincidence?

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Martin Omander
a resident of Rex Manor
on Apr 5, 2012 at 4:53 pm

This is a weird and tragic story, for everyone involved. We will probably never know the full background, or the full impact on the victims. I wonder if difficulty making ends meet in this poor economy is enough to push some unstable or drug-using individuals over the edge.

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