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Petaluma Man Dies in Solo Crash on Sonoma Mountain Parkway

Police still continuing to investigate cause of accident, which shut down the southbound lane of Sonoma Mountain Parkway for three hours Monday

Petaluma police are investigating a fatal accident that occurred Monday afternoon on Sonoma Mountain Parkway near Riesling Road.

A 41-year-old Petaluma man was driving northbound on Sonoma Mountain near the Santa Rosa Junior College, when his car suddenly crossed into the center median and entered the opposite lane of traffic and collided with a tree.

When police arrived, witnesses were already performing CPR on the driver, but could not revive him. The driver, identified as Paul Borre, was taken to Petaluma Valley Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Borre’s eight-year-old daughter was also in the car, but was not injured in the accident.

It was not immediately clear whether Borre had a medical emergency and an investigation into the crash is ongoing.

The accident, reported at 3pm, shut down southbound Sonoma Mountain Parkway for about three hours.

If you witnessed the crash, please contact traffic officer Rob Hawkins at 707-776-3722 and reference report number 12-4301.

The accident marks the fourth traffic fatality in Petaluma this year.

George Barich September 18, 2012 at 03:34 PM
Very sad story. Trees in the middle of the road, on the side of the road, don't mix well with motorists at any speed. This is not news but worth considering. Why do these city planners and city engineers keep wanting to place trees in the middle of the road, like they do in Cotati? Is this an attempt to rid us of those damn motorists? Could this death have been avoided if not for the damn tree? How about a barrier the car could have bounced off of? Trees next to roadways, in the middle or roadways can be hazardous. This accident occurring in Sonoma County, I am surprised to see nobody appears concerned how the tree made out.
Kathy S September 18, 2012 at 06:23 PM
Or the trees prevented the vehicle from crossing over and hitting another one head on. My condolences to the family. Thank goodness the little girl was not injured.
mick September 18, 2012 at 09:45 PM
The tree made out better than the driver in fact the tree served to prevent the car from doing greater human harm (his 8 year-old daughter was in the car as well). The impact to the tree did minimal damage to car and tree (I witnessed the aftermath). The tree is unavailable for comment from what I understand about trees.
George Barich September 18, 2012 at 11:11 PM
Didn't the victim's car jump the median strip, pass over the oncoming lane and hit the tree on the opposite side of the street? According to engineering standards, mature trees don't collapse when struck or break away very well. Years ago, I was forced off my bicycle by a car and hit a small tree on the side of a street in a residential neighborhood. I broke the tree because it was so small. Point is, would this deceased driver be alive today but not for the tree? I am not suggesting all roadside trees be removed at the taxpayer's expense, but these city designers who love trees and can't seem to find enough money in city budgets to removed all the leaves off the street comes at a price. Whoever tried to get a comment from the tree is probably is a unionized city worker just doing his/her job.
George Barich September 18, 2012 at 11:11 PM
Didn't the victim's car jump the median strip, pass over the oncoming lane and hit the tree on the opposite side of the street? According to engineering standards, mature trees don't collapse when struck or break away very well. Years ago, I was forced off my bicycle by a car and hit a small tree on the side of a street in a residential neighborhood. I broke the tree because it was so small. Point is, would this deceased driver be alive today but not for the tree? I am not suggesting all roadside trees be removed at the taxpayer's expense, but these city designers who love trees and can't seem to find enough money in city budgets to removed all the leaves off the street comes at a price. Whoever tried to get a comment from the tree is probably is a unionized city worker just doing his/her job.
Ptown September 19, 2012 at 12:49 PM
I'm not a expert and may be wrong but the tree did minimal damage, and thank god his 8 year old was not injured at all by the minimal impact w/ the tree . Sounds like a medical emergency to me. So who cares about the tree, an 8 year old witnessed her father pass. If anything this should remind everyone to get preventative checkups on their health so they can be w/ their loved ones as long as possible. Seems like the age for heart problems etc... resulting in sudden death are efffecting those between 30-50 way more often these days ( again I may be wrong w/ this instance). God bless the family, especailly the 8 year old. Hope they make it through these tough times okay.
Bill Fishman September 19, 2012 at 05:17 PM
Okay, George, so you don't like trees, you blame the city for them being there, you would like to see them removed, but you don't want the tax-payers to have to pay to remove them. How about the barrier that you have suggested? Who is supposed to pay for that? The tooth fairy? Pixies? The shoemaker's elves? You're killing me, George: Some poor guy careens across a divider strip due to a medical emergency, hits a tree and dies and you use it to launch an anti-government diatribe. Tell me this: was the tree on WELFARE? Did it come to Petaluma LEGALLY? Does the tree pay taxes? . . . OR is it one of the 47% who depend on the Nanny State"?
George Barich September 20, 2012 at 03:43 AM
Come on Bill, you should know a thing or two about contributory negligence. I blame no one and ask the question, would the driver be alive today if not for the tree? If so, why is public policy to keep planting trees in the middle of our roads and closely off the shoulder of the road? Road hazards abound, and cities pay out millions to victims where the cities knew, or should of known, the road hazards they put in place contributed to death or injury. As an attorney, don't play stupid Bill. When someone dies in an intersection the government often uses it to launch an investigation whether or not to install a stoplight, stop signs, or roundabouts. But when a citizens asked the question that maybe the government and their tree loving city planners and engineers might be partially to blame, the big government activists come out of the woodwork to defend.... Amazing. Furthermore, counselor, we don't know if this victim was a poor guy or not, whether he was intoxicated or not, or whether he was swatting at a bee in the car, or whether he was forced off the road. Stick to the facts, Bill and try to have an intelligent conversation once in a while. And I love trees, but moving cars and trees in the roadway can be a lethal combination as we have seen here. So, sweep the issue under the rug, Bill. The legal issues of this case appear over your head.
Bill Fishman September 20, 2012 at 07:39 PM
I think we should have lunch some time and continue this conversation, George. I don't think we're that far apart on anything.
George Barich September 20, 2012 at 08:07 PM
We are miles a part on analysis, fact finding, and on style Bill. We are the city, you, me, and our neighbors. When I blame the municipality and city staff, essentially I am blaming myself indirectly. I am harder on myself than I am on government reps and our city employees. It's tragedies like this one that forces us to think next time it could be me, my wife, or my kid not surviving such a crash. I just urge people to think outside the box. Trees in the middle of a road with thousands of motorist speeding past them all day and all night long? Really? Really. I have been forced off the road in my life on more than one occasion. Luckily for me, I did not meet a tree face to face. Look at engineering standards including CALTRANS. Even they have learned a lot about trees and the harm they can do to moving vehicles. That's why they are taking them out or no longer planting them in HARMS WAY. A city's liability at times seems endless. I know. The fact is beautiful tree lined streets and highways come at a price, often death. As a society, we can deal with it or chalk it up to a compromise we must learn to live with.
Bill Fishman September 20, 2012 at 08:59 PM
Good comments. George. Different conclusions. Do you remember back in 1987 when the Petaluma Fire Chief Les Lenz was killed when he ran into a sycamore on Petaluma Boulevard, North on the way home from a party early one morning? By morning, his friends had gotten together and cut down the offending tree -- by way of punishment, I suppose. A more constructive response followed: over the ensuing year, barriers were installed and the non-offending trees were left in place. I really don't have any problem handling things that way. Trees add tremendously to the overall aspect of a community. If they come with some minor risk, I think it is a fair trade-off. But that is a judgment call. A matter of degree. We don't yet know what caused Mr. Borre's death. The early reports suggest that the damage to his car was slight and his passenger entirely uninjured. The collision may not have been the cause of death.
George Barich September 20, 2012 at 09:16 PM
The tree may not have contributed to his death. However, in thousands of other cases around the world, they do. Trees in the middle of, or between the sidewalks and city street,s present other problems. The trees often tear up sidewalks and are often maintenance nightmares for city budgets, budgets that often are running in the red these days trying to maintain what they already have in place. Trees can be messy as well as beautiful. Trees do a lot of damage. Furthermore, the tree in question could have been a cause of death for the child in the car, but it's human nature to ignore this issue because people won't get involved often unless there is a direct death. See, even trees have political consequences. City planners have to stop this obsession with trees in and beside roadways. As soccer players tear up their ankles following into gofer holes in our city parks, our city ignores the problem because they don't want to hurt the poor gofers.... They have a right to coexist too.... LOL
Elina September 24, 2012 at 08:11 AM
I was there doing CPR on him waiting for paramedics to arrive. He did cross over the median and it was due to a massive heart attack. The truck had a good amount of damage to it but the cab was not crushed. His poor daughter was being hugged and taken care of by a stranger as she watched me and the other young men who assisted do CPR. Her shocked face will haunt me for a while but it is also the kindness of a stranger hugging and holding her that will hopefully remain in my memory longer. He sounded like such a good man.

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