Fatal Motorcycle Crash Hits Hard

The second fatal crash in the same area takes another Livermore life.

This is what death sounds like: The roar of a motorcycle whizzing by and a thud hard enough to shake your house like you just experienced a small temblor.

In fact, on Tuesday night while I was working in my home office, I thought that was exactly what had happened. Instead, I learned it was .

Taking a little writing break, I was reading the Twitter feed about the shaker that happened in Southern California. People were talking earthquake weather, which was certainly on my mind.

So there was a disconnect between the loud sound of the motorcycle engine blasting down Murrieta toward the Portola intersection and the sudden jolt that literally shook our house. My husband stumbled out of bed, and came into my office asking what just happened.

And again I pondered whether it had been a slight earthquake. After all, the sound of cars and motorcycles traveling way too fast down Murrieta is a common occurrence. Drivers seem to think that the curvy road is like a slalom racetrack, especially late at night.

But as someone in a family of motorcycle riders — my husband has two that he rides to work in Oakland almost every day — I have to say I didn’t judge the sound to be extremely fast, but certainly over the 35 mph limit. And I constantly hear much faster bikes powering down that street.

So I was surprised when just less than 15 minutes after the shake, we heard the sirens.

I would be wracked with guilt over not jumping up immediately and going back to look over our brick sound wall if it all hadn’t happened so quickly. The thought of the minutes that could have made a difference would have haunted me. But when I saw the body and the mangled mess that just moments earlier had been cruising down the road, I knew it wouldn’t have made a difference.

My first thoughts were for his family — I read later that one of the people walking around after the crash was his brother — and for his friends. I thought of the person now lying lifeless on the asphalt was probably a vibrant guy whose moment of recklessness took him from those who loved him.

Our backyards in this area are not at ground level. The wall at that point holds back solid dirt.  It looked like he was going into the right turn lane when he jumped the curb and hit the wall hard enough to knock a hole in the cinder blocks just above the dirt line where the blue street bike hit.

I thought about all the raccoons and possums that frequent that area of my backyard and I wondered if perhaps he had glimpsed something he tried to avoid hitting.

I listened as officers at the scene tried to find skid marks. There were none. The how questions came back with little answers. Too fast, jumped the curb, narrowly missed a small tree, hit the wall, ricocheted into the left turn lane.

And the sight of the man, later identified as 31-year-old Daniel Vanderhoofven of Livermore, and the mashed motorcycle, was made all the more eerie by the lighted memorial just yards away. The tribute is for 17-year-old David Goddard, who died last Nov. 22

It was our wedding anniversary, and after a nice long evening at , we came home, happy. That was before we heard the impact sound around 11 p.m.

And a life was quickly terminated.

Nothing seems to deter drivers from traveling too fast down that stretch of Murrieta. The curves are blind, and people often walk along the sidewalks. Bus stops dot the street. Nocturnal creatures cross it regularly. Yet so many people carelessly rip along the road.

I had hoped that keeping the lighted memorial to young David would serve as a deterrent to those who think that they are invincible, and drive just a little too fast.

Apparently not.

Bill Davis August 09, 2012 at 01:49 PM
Would a greater police presence (in terms of officers patrolling and speed cameras) help?
Nathan21 August 09, 2012 at 01:53 PM
Great writing, really makes me stop and think... So sad...
Jenni Taylor August 09, 2012 at 02:52 PM
Thank you for this article. He is loved by so many including myself. It's just not fair that he's really gone. He was such an amazing man and so loving. He will be missed every second of my life.
Donal Pearce August 09, 2012 at 03:02 PM
Very good writing -- thank you, Susan, for treating something so sensitive as the death of someone else's loved one and bringing it close to home. My condolences to Vanderhoofven's family. Very sad indeed.
Denese Luthi August 09, 2012 at 04:41 PM
Thankyou very much for the article from the heart. Daniel was a very nice young man a great freind to many.
Jennifer Clouser August 09, 2012 at 04:48 PM
Thank you for this article! I appreciate the emotions shared! Daniel was a loyal and great friend!!! It is still so shocking to me that this is real and I have such a horrible feeling in my stomach! I know that he will Never Be Forgotten!!! Daniel, BigE and I Will Never Forget, We Love You WoodChuck!!!
Heidi L. August 09, 2012 at 05:05 PM
This is a great piece. Loved reading it. Very emotional although I did not know the man, but very well written to say the least.
beth August 09, 2012 at 05:27 PM
Great article....Sad story :(
Jon Krieg August 09, 2012 at 05:28 PM
Excellent article and account of what happened. I'm a resident of Livermore since 77, it is sad to hear of the two fatalities in less then a year on Murrietta. As a teenager I as well drove down the same street at high rates of speed. It was never a good choice, especially with so many blind corners. Naturally, I learned it was unnecessary speed! Today, there are also more cars travelling down the street at all hours of the day. I didn't know this victim, but my heart goes out to his family during these hard times. Hopefully, with these two accidents people will learn its not their private speedway and think twice before speeding down Murrietta. It's just a matter time before its not just one life taken in a single vehichle accident, but a multicar or victim accident. We live in on of the best cities in California, let's not loose another on of our residents to an accident which could have been prevented. In 86, 1 month after graduating for GHS, I lost 4 friends in one car accident on foothill road due to speeding. I don't want anyone going through the same pain again, as our community did in 1986....
Christy Vane August 09, 2012 at 06:02 PM
Yesterday I drove down Murrieta and happened across a gathering of people at the sight of the crash. I had only briefly heard something about a motorcycle fatality in Livermore. How quickly I was reminded just how many lives are affected by this tragic loss. My brother was driving the car mentioned in the previous comment back in 86. I can relate to such a horrific accident and losing a loved one suddenly. Another life was lost on almost this same stretch of road that summer as well. My heart goes out to the family and friends.
Harlan August 09, 2012 at 07:34 PM
Was Daniel a long time Livermore resident? I used to babysit a Daniel Vanderhoofven and his brother when I was a teenager. So sad....
Sarah August 09, 2012 at 07:48 PM
The wall??? Really? Thats replaceable. Have some respect.
OhMamma August 09, 2012 at 08:13 PM
I think this is one of the most despicable and reprehensible posts I've ever seen on the patch. A man died, and you're concerned about repairs to a wall!?!? You sir, have the least amount of compassion for human life I've ever seen displayed on the internet.
Jean Edwards August 09, 2012 at 08:38 PM
Sorry for your loss
J L August 09, 2012 at 08:43 PM
'Speed cameras' and additional patrols would be a giant waste of money. How about these guys on motorcycles actually respect the capabilities of their bike and slow down. I see it every single day on Springtown Blvd, despite there being an electronic speed signal. I feel bad for this guy because he lost his life at such a young age, but what happened to personal responsibility.
Styler August 09, 2012 at 10:39 PM
Yes, I went to LHS with him.
voice of reason August 09, 2012 at 10:48 PM
As kids we are taught that there consequenses for our actions. As adults we tend to forget that, sometimes to a tragic end.
Kirk Snyder August 09, 2012 at 11:56 PM
Who pays for the wall?
Kswimmie August 10, 2012 at 12:12 AM
If only people -would- learn from these two accidents: last Friday I was traveling east on Portola at the speed limit when a black truck came speeding up from behind, cut me off and then proceeded to run the light making a left turn at North Livermore. I waited at the light and due to other light changes, ended up next to the truck. To my dismay, the teenager behind the wheel seemed to have forgotten that his back window held a sticker memorializing the victim from last November. They -don't- learn...speeding, running lights and weaving in traffic still happen despite the loss of friends. Will they ever learn?? (no offense intended toward either victim's family)
Alexis B. August 10, 2012 at 02:04 AM
This article is horribly written. From the intro of "This is what death sounds like:" to the paragraph "But when I saw the body and the mangled mess that just moments earlier had been cruising down the road, I knew it wouldn’t have made a difference." I'm so sorry for the family's loss and for the inexperienced writers Livermore Patch articles often have.
TG August 10, 2012 at 05:38 AM
You should really choose a different headline.
Megan August 10, 2012 at 06:20 AM
I had the same experience twice on Murietta in the past two weeks-Light was red and some moron (sorry can't use foul language here) sped thru the intersecton at Olivina at 85 mph. (I used to work law enforcement--I know speed) i thank GOd that I was turning right else I am sure I along with my daughter would be dead with that jerk. A few days later, same intersection, another moron going a little slower (maybe 65) ran the red light again and once again I thanked God I was turning right. WHAT THE HELL IS THE RUSH?
Alberta Pilliod August 10, 2012 at 04:13 PM
I was really offended by the article. I felt that the perspective was more about how the writer felt and less about the tragedy. There was little sensitivity to family and friends until the latter part of the article.
skybaby August 10, 2012 at 04:26 PM
This wasnt a news article, this was an opion piece...
Mike S August 10, 2012 at 05:38 PM
The top of the article clearly states "OPINION"
George S August 11, 2012 at 07:59 PM
A good question. Who does pay for the wall? Does the homeowner have to sue the estate of the deseaced, or will insureance do the suing? Better not be my tax dollars.
Mbug August 12, 2012 at 10:37 PM
I felt the same way about this article. It was like she was giving gruesome details, that weren't necessary. And that part about not making a difference? What kind of thing is that to say? At all, ever? And, just wondering if I read this correctly- DID SHE NOT EVEN GO OUTSIDE TO SEE IF SOMETHING HAD HAPPENED, ONCE SHE FIGURED OUT IT WASN'T AN EARTHQUAKE. VERY ODDLY WRITTEN AND INSENSITIVE ARTICLE. If this had been written as a " Stop and Think" article written independently of this specific incident, then maybe it would have seemed more thoughtful in its intent. As it was written, completely inappropriate. Really thought I was the only one that thought this was insensitive, based on the other comments.
Mbug August 12, 2012 at 10:39 PM
What difference does it make that this was an "opinion"?
hals1 August 12, 2012 at 10:55 PM
I have lived nearby for 30 years and have seen many accidents on that street. It's time to put speed bumps there as lights, stop signs, and the occasional police patrol won't slow down the speeders. The Portola exit is closed so no need to worry about traffic.


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