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July 16, 2004

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Publication Date: Friday, July 16, 2004

Drunken driver pleads guilty to Mountain View cyclist's death Drunken driver pleads guilty to Mountain View cyclist's death (July 16, 2004)

Blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit

A Santa Rosa lawyer pleaded guilty in Sonoma County Superior Court last week to vehicular manslaughter and driving under the influence in an April accident that killed Mountain View bicyclist Alan Liu and critically wounded his girlfriend.

Harvey Hereford, 69, faces nine years and eight months in prison when he is sentenced on Sept. 13. He is being held in the Sonoma County jail in lieu of $200,000 bail.

His attorney George Engler said that his client is capable of posting bail but "doesn't feel he should be outside.'' Engler said Hereford is attending Alcoholics Anonymous classes in the jail.

Hereford pleaded guilty to three of four charges filed against him after he struck and killed bicyclist Liu, 31, and seriously wounded 26-year-old Jill Mason of Cupertino on state Highway 12 in Santa Rosa on April 11. Both cyclists were wearing helmets.

Liu was an engineer at Applied Materials and a coach with the Mountain View Masters swim team.

Mason is continuing rehabilitation at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center after suffering head and spinal injuries in the crash. According to her family's Web site, she has begun eating without feeding tubes and her short-term memory is improving but her physical mobility remains impaired and she remains in a wheelchair.

The prosecution said Hereford's blood-alcohol level was 0.29 percent, more than three times the legal limit, when he struck Liu and continued driving 100 feet until his 1995 Nissan Sentra struck Mason.

Hereford continued driving another 300 feet before he stopped, according to the California Highway Patrol. Two police officers detained Hereford until the CHP arrived. Liu was pronounced dead at the scene.

Hereford, who practices maritime law in San Francisco, pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter, DUI causing great bodily injury and driving with an expired license. Another charge of driving with a blood-alcohol level greater than 0.08 is to be dismissed.

Engler said Hereford's driver's license expired the day before the accident.

Hereford's plea came as a surprise. He had waived his preliminary hearing and a trial date was to be set last week. Engler moved to have the criminal proceedings moved from Judge Robert Dale's courtroom.

"I didn't think he could get a fair hearing before Judge Dale," Engler said this afternoon.

Dale granted the motion and Hereford then pleaded guilty to the charges before Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Elaine Rushing, who will sentence him.

-- Bay City News

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