CFO of Lawrence Livermore Lab dies after SUV plows through gym

LIVERMORE, Calif. (KTVU and BCN) - The staff at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory was in mourning after its chief financial officer was killed in a freak incident early Tuesday morning at a Livermore gym.

It's the kind of thing that happens often around the Bay Area. A driver, usually an older driver, hits the gas instead of the brakes and slams their vehicle into a building. In this case, it was fatal.

People outside the gym on East Stanley Boulevard in Livermore were in stunned silence after the incident.

Around 6:30 a.m., a Mercedes SUV crashed through the front window of the Lifestyle RX Gym, and into a group of people working out.

"It does hit close to home. I've never experienced anything like this," said gym customer Maida Connery, who was thankful she hadn't yet arrived at the gym when the crash happened.

Six people were injured and 49-year-old Kathy Baker of Livermore was killed.

"It's a terrible shock. I mean you can't prepare for something as tragic as this. It's just something that happens in the blink of any eye, and the rest of us are left to deal with it. It's going to be a hard road," said Baker's friend and coworker, Bill Karleskind.

Police say the crash happened when the 80 year old driver was trying to park her SUV and she suffered what's called pedal confusion.

"When you think your foot's on the brake and you push it harder to stop, that's probably what happened, and she pushed the gas pedal harder and accelerated," explained Livermore Police officer Traci Rebiejo.

She said the SUV crashed 70 feet through the gym before hitting a wall.

"[She was] very well-liked by all people that worked for her above and below. And that's a rare commodity when you find someone that's liked from all sides," Karleskind said.

"Kathy was a good person. She came to the lab about 15 years ago," he added.

A family member at the driver's home told KTVU that she is devastated over what happened. Police added they ordered the 80-year-old woman not to drive, and said her license will be suspended.

LifeStyleRx is a 70,000-square-foot gym and wellness center that is part of the Stanford Health Care-ValleyCare system, according to its website.

LifeStyleRx will remain closed until further notice.  

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