Man fleeing falling tree run over, killed by neighbor's minivan

Image 1 of 2

A Mill Valley man, killed during Wednesday night's storm, is remembered as hard-working and caring by friends and neighbors. 

 Darren Malvin, 52, died when a neighbor ran over him with her Honda minivan, as both tried to escape a falling tree. It happened in the Homestead Valley neighborhood, at about 8:30 p.m.

"I was with Darren, standing out by the roadway," witness Jim Derich told KTVU, "and when we scooted away, the car scooted forward, and unfortunately that was it." 

At the intersection of Laverne Avenue and N. Ferndale Ave, a few bouquets of flowers have been placed, to honor Malvin. 

At the time of the accident, the cypress tree had already lost some branches, power lines were tangled and sparking, and 911 had been called.

Derich and Malvin were standing outside, talking for five or 10 minutes with neighbor Kristin Cann, 76, who was in her minivan. 

A wind gust hit and the threesome heard loud noises overhead.  

"We heard cracking, and it sounded like more of the tree was going to come down, so we scooted to get out of harms way," recounted Derich. 

It was a spontaneous reaction, and by chance, Malvin darted in front of Cann's vehicle as she accelerated it in a panic.

"There were 40 mph winds, heavy rains, it's dark, power is out, and the road is not illuminated," said Battalion Chief Scott Barnes, of the Mill Valley Fire Department. 

Visibility was poor for Cann, who thought she had run over a tree branch, but soon realized what she had done. 

"Anyone would just be devastated by this," said Barnes, "and it probably compounded because they're neighbors and everybody knows each other up there."

Fire paramedics who were dispatched for the tree and power lines, found themselves handling a critical trauma case instead. 

Malvin never regained consciousness and died on arrival at the hospital. 

He was the founder of American Solar in Sausalito, and a longtime Marin County resident. 

He and his wife were living in a house alongside the trees only temporarily, as their dream home was under construction,  a few doors away.  

"I know that he was really well-known and well-liked around here, so that's a terrible loss," said Homestead Valley resident Mike Mooney, outside the local K-8 school. 

Malvin has a 7-year-old daughter, and he was known to participate in school activities.  

"Everyone is definitely grieving, and it's a big loss. We're trying to help the students deal with it, maybe with grief counselors," said Mooney.    

Homestead Valley is a close-knit neighborhood, and both Malvin and the woman who hit him, are on the board of the local community association. 

"Darren's a great guy, very active and engaged and well-liked by people in the community," said Derich, saddened that the man he was speaking to one moment was gone the next. 

"Its just a fluke, so appreciate every day that we have," said Derich, "because we can't be sure what tomorrow may or may not bring."

Marin CHP is investigating the fatal crash, but has not indicated what consequences, if any, the driver will face.