Charges Announced in Cyclist Death

blog bikesVehicular manslaughter charges brought forth in case that killed a local cyclist 

The Santa Cruz County District Attorney’s Office will charge a 63-year-old motorist with vehicular manslaughter for the crash that killed a local cyclist.

Josh Alper, 40, was struck and killed while biking southbound on Highway 1 near Davenport on Nov. 2.  

Navindra Jain of Santa Cruz was driving northbound when he veered into oncoming traffic and crossed over into the bicycle line, hitting Alper. Jain has previously told authorities he fell asleep at the wheel driving home from religious services in Milpitas. He remained at the scene after the crash and spoke with authorities there.

Wednesday, after a lengthy investigation into the crash, prosecutors said they would charge Jain with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter. The charge is different from felony gross vehicular manslaughter, which requires evidence that the person acted in such a reckless way that it creates a high risk of death.

Jain has not yet been arraigned.

Alper’s family is also filing a civil suit against Jain that also names Tesla Motor Co.—the manufacturers of the vehicle Jain was driving. The suit was filed in Santa Cruz County Superior Court and seeks an unspecified amount of money. 

Alper’s death drew a lot of attention to the alleged failures of “share the road” policies, and was even mentioned in a New York Times op-ed titled “Is it OK to kill cyclists?”

In the Nov. 9 piece, Daniel Duane wrote about the number of cases of cyclists killed by motorists in which no chargers were filed.

“My own view is that everybody’s a little right and that we’re at a scary cultural crossroads on the whole car/bike thing. American cities are dense enough—and almost half of urban car trips short enough, under three miles—that cities from Denver to Miami are putting in bike-share programs,” Duane wrote. “If there’s one thing New York City’s incoming and departing mayors agree on, it’s the need for more bike lanes.”

Alper was a UC Santa Cruz librarian and musician. He graduated from UCSC in 1998 with a degree in literature and began working at the university library in 2005. He left behind a wife, fellow librarian Annette Marines.

“Josh was passionate about his work in Interlibrary Loan and took great joy and satisfaction in being able to help students and faculty with their research,” wrote fellow librarian Elizabeth Cowell in a post on the university’s site. “Josh was an incredibly kind, genuine, and generous human being, which was clear to everyone who interacted with him.”

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