Cop causes 4-car crash but doesn’t get a ticket

Daily Post Staff Writer

After a Menlo Park police officer rear-ended another driver and caused a chain reaction crash, the city paid two of the victims a total of $26,780, the Post has learned.

Sgt. Kevin Paugh was on patrol driving down Middlefield Road in Menlo Park on Oct. 27, when he rear-ended a car stopped at a red light at Ringwood Avenue, near Menlo-Atherton High School, according to a claim filed by John Cook of Fremont, whose car was hit by Paugh’s patrol car.

Paugh didn’t get a ticket after the accident, according to Menlo Park police spokeswoman Nicole Acker.

When Paugh’s police car hit Cook’s car, it caused a chain reaction that led to Cook’s car hitting Pamela Illes’ car, which hit another car, according to Revenue and Claims Manager John McGirr.

Illes and Cook both filed claims against the city, which were settled earlier this year.
Illes received $14,000 from the city for repairs to the rental car she was driving.

Cook received $12,780. Cook claimed he suffered back and shoulder injuries from the crash.

Menlo Park police asked Palo Alto to take the incident report to “ensure objectivity,” said Palo Alto police Lt. James Reifschneider.

No one was taken to the hospital after the accident, Reifschneider said.

Reifschneider said it is against policy to say what caused the accident, but said that the crash was Paugh’s fault.

Reifschneider said based on the report, Paugh was driving too fast for conditions on the road. That means that no matter how fast Paugh was driving, if the cars in front of you are stopped, you should be stopped too.

McGirr said Paugh was driving about 25 miles an hour at the time of the crash, the speed limit for that stretch of Middlefield Road is 35 miles an hour.

There was no internal investigation of Paugh’s driving, Acker said.

“This was not a criminal case/investigation, but a traffic collision,” Acker said in an email.

Calls to Paugh to hear his side of the story went unreturned.