Public Commendation for Witness West Marin Hit-and-Run Update
In the wake of the West Marin Hit-and-Run, we’ve been communicating with public officials and tracking the developments in the story as they unfold. This past week, we were able to focus on publicly thanking the man whose quick actions led to such a fast response. We’ve also received a number of update requests from people following the status of the case. Here are the developments to date.
Hit-and-Run Video Witness Publicly Recognized
As a group of cyclists, public officials and onlookers applauded, Jamie McPherson recently received a commendation from the California Highway Patrol for his actions immediately following the West Marin Hit-and-Run last month, coming forward with video that enabled the California Highway Patrol to rapidly apprehend a hit-and-run driver just 12 hours after he struck four cyclists on Point Reyes/Petaluma Road.
At the Commendation Ceremony, three of the four riders who were struck had a chance to meet with Jamie, while a good crowd of MCBC staff, members and other cyclists gathered to celebrate his actions.
This was an opportunity for the cycling community to acknowledge Jamie for coming forward in defense of safety for all. We often say that cyclists are fathers and mothers, sons and daughters who happen to ride bikes. On October 7, when Jamie witnessed four family members being hit and injured, he stepped up and did the right thing, on behalf of all of us. For that, Jamie, we’re grateful. You deserve this commendation and our heartfelt thanks.
We also want to thank the CHP and other first responders for coming to our assistance so quickly, and with so much concern. MCBC is proud of the relationship that we have built with CHP Captain Mota and his team, and believe it will translate into improved safety on the road.
Arraignment Attended by Victims and Concerned Citizens: October 26
Late last month, the arraignment of Aaron Paff took place at the Marin County Superior Court. Before a large contingent of MCBC members and other concerned individuals, including three of his alleged victims, the Novato man accused of intentionally striking cyclists with his pickup truck had his bail increased and was subsequently returned to jail.
At the urging of the prosecution, Judge Kelly Simmons raised Paff’s bail from the original $50,000 to $200,000 while adding another $5,000 charge to the bail for property damage.
Simmons also ordered a bail condition which prohibits Paff from driving if released.
Prosecutor Karen Lamb argued for the bail increase, noting that Paff already has another hit-and-run charge pending from May. No one was injured in that incident, but Paff allegedly struck a support post at a Novato shopping center and was driving with an open container of alcohol.
MCBC is disappointed that Paff is only facing hit-and-run charges. We know that many of you have also expected stiffer charges.
“Hit-and-run charges suggest his only error was not stopping after plowing his truck into four people,” said Executive Director Jim Elias. “MCBC is encouraging concerned cyclists and other citizens to attend the arraignment to show support for the injured riders, and to express that we expect vigorous enforcement of the law, including the protection of our safety as cyclists.
Hit-and-Run Incident and Arrest: Saturday, October 7
This devastating incident occurred during the Jensie Gran Fondo of Marin on Saturday, October 7. Novato resident Aaron Paff plowed his pickup truck into four riders on Pt. Reyes-Petaluma Road, only four miles from the ride’s finish at Stafford Lake Park.
The collision threw riders off the roadway and sent shattered bicycles in all directions. Paramedics arrived quickly to the scene, evacuated three of the men by ambulance, with the fourth requiring a medevac helicopter.
A motorcyclist caught the incident on a helmet-mounted camera and immediately provided it to the California Highway Patrol, which shared images widely on social media. Numerous tips flowed in from county residents, resulting in the arrest of 21-year-old Paff at approximately midnight that same evening.
The motorcyclist, a resident of Santa Rosa and veteran of the war in Iraq, was participating in a motorcycle rally in the area. Executive Director Jim Elias met with him and viewed the video multiple times. Elias was also on the scene minutes after the incident.
“The video showed a blue pickup truck approaching the four cyclists from behind. They were riding single file on the far right side of the road. The truck then moved from the center of the lane to the right, essentially exploded the group of riders, and then moved back to the center and sped off. It was awful.”
Elias met with CHP Captain Robert Mota on Wednesday. Captain Mota confirmed that Paff had been arrested on felony hit-and-run charges. When pressed on why Paff wasn’t booked into jail on stiffer charges, Mota suggested the case is still developing, saying, “We arrested the driver based on the evidence and existing laws. The reality is, if he had pulled over after hitting the cyclists, we could have cited him with nothing more than a traffic citation.”
Mota added, “We were grateful that several people responded to our social media posts, coming forward with information that led us to arrest the driver quickly.”
What Happens Next: MCBC’s Commitment to Safety
Captain Mota and the Corte Madera-based CHP have worked closely with MCBC toward making Marin’s roads safe for cycling, including concentrating on intentionally aggressive drivers.
“We obviously still have work to do to make our roads safe,” Elias observed. “What happened here is shameful. We will not accept incidents like this as inevitable.”
As we have been doing since the initial incident, MCBC will work to keep you up to date with any available information on this process. We are committed to your safety.
To continue delivering this message to elected officials, law enforcement agencies, and the broader public, we rely on your support. Please join us in waging this campaign for safety.