As the trial of Matthew Pumar wound down this past week, witness testimony continued to point to only one conclusion: Pumar sped through a red light at California Street and Escuela Avenue on the morning of June 21, 2012, before he swerved to avoid an oncoming truck making a lawful left turn, ran up on the sidewalk and hit William Ware -- killing the well-known Mountain View man as he waited for a bus.
Pumar stands accused of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, as the prosecuting district attorney claims the 22-year-old was speeding and took a reckless risk by entering the intersection that morning. If convicted, Pumar faces a maximum sentence of six years in prison.
Pumar's attorney, Dennis Smith, has tried to establish a reasonable doubt in the minds of the members of the jury by grilling the driver of a utility van who was making an unprotected left turn in the intersection at the same time Pumar was crossing Escuela Avenue, heading east on California. Smith has also tried to establish doubt as to whether his client actually entered the intersection after the light had already turned red.
However, testimony from witnesses called by the prosecution combined with testimony from a witness called by the defense seemed to paint a clear picture of Pumar trying, and failing, to squeeze through a yellow light as he made his way to work that fateful morning.
Mountain View police responded to the scene of the accident just minutes after it occurred, around 9:30 a.m. Ware was thrown approximately 156 feet after he was hit by Pumar's gray Audi A4. Emergency responders found that Ware's leg had been ripped from his body during the violent impact and blood was splattered on the bench and overhanging shelter where he was waiting for the bus, according to Officer Ed Hammon of the Mountain View police.
Based upon the distance the body was thrown, Hammon said he was able to determine that Pumar was likely traveling anywhere between 46 mph and 62 mph at the time his car struck Ware -- after the car's right front wheel folded under and its right rear wheel was ripped off from the force of the car jumping the curb, after it plowed through a street sign and skidded along the sidewalk and grass. The speed limit on the stretch of California Street where the accident occurred is 35 mph.
Hammon said he believed the car was likely going faster than that before Pumar lost control.
Tatiana Yurochkina, one of the witnesses called by Deputy District Attorney Duffy Magilligan, testified that she was waiting to cross California Street at Escuela Avenue that morning. She told Magilligan that she had taken about two steps into the intersection when she saw Pumar's car enter the intersection. She had taken those two steps after observing the crossing signal change from an orange hand to a white figure of a walking man, she said.
Yurochkina should have only seen the "little white man" signaling it was safe to cross after the light for Pumar had already been red for a full second, according to Sayed Fakhry, the senior traffic engineer for the City of Mountain View's public works department who was brought to testify by Pumar's attorney.
At press time on the afternoon of Sept. 11, the trial was expected to conclude shortly. For trial updates, go to mv-voice.com.