news October 7 West Marin Hit and Run Update
A 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.
We at MCBC and the Jensie Gran Fondo are relieved to report that all riders have now been released from the hospital. The most seriously injured rider, Spencer Fast of Mill Valley, will require extended recovery, especially for his right eye.
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.”
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.
This case is under active investigation. If you have additional information regarding the incident, or have witnessed Paff driving dangerously or menacingly at other times, contact CHP Investigating Detective Kevin Giannone at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We obviously still have work to do to make our roads safe,” Elias observed. What happened at the Jensie is shameful. We will not accept incidents like this as inevitable.”
MCBC will continue to update this story as it develops.