Debris in deadly crash likely came from Caltrans truck

KTVU has learned a piece of metal pipe that smashed through a car windshield on Highway 101 last Friday, killing the driver, may have come from a Caltrans truck.

It happened in Menlo Park, near the Willow Road exit.

Authorities identified 82-year-old Louis Schaefer of Menlo Park as the driver of a white Toyota van that was struck by the item when it smashed through his windshield near the Willow Road exit at about 1 p.m.

After being struck, witnesses say they saw the van with its solo driver suddenly lose control before veering across the fast lane and colliding with the center divide. He rode the divide for about 100 feet before eventually coming to a stop.

CHP described the object as being about 2 to 3 inches in diameter or about the size of a baseball and said it looked like plumbing material.

No other vehicles were involved in the accident. Traffic returned to normal just ahead of the evening commute.

On Sunday, Caltrans said a preliminary investigation shows the object that hit Shaefer likely fell off of a Caltrans water truck.

Caltrans offered its condolences to Schaefer's family and friends.

The Schaefer family released the following statement: 

"The Schaefer family is grateful to the drivers who pulled over to try to help our father, Louis Schaefer.

We are also grateful for the compassion and professionalism of the California Highway Patrol and the San Mateo County Coroner’s Office.

We are grieving the loss of our father. He was a brilliant electrical engineer who spent most of his career at SRI International in Menlo Park.

Family members will not be holding a press conference or giving interviews.

We have no further comment at this time and ask that our privacy be respected."