- This Week
The Bike Plan is finally free. Can it help soothe tensions between cyclists and motorists?
08.10.10 - 3:20 pm | Rebecca Bowe |
Speaking in a soft voice, he explained that he'd gone out on his bike to buy milk from Safeway, and had nearly made it back to his apartment in the Mission. The next thing he remembers is blacking out. "Bam, that's it," he said. "I just remember I flew in the air. That's it."
He woke up two nights later at San Francisco General Hospital. He said he nearly fainted when doctors conveyed the extent of the damage. Casajeros' medical bills totaled around $300,000, according to his close friend and one of his temporary caretakers, Kellie Arechiga. He was accepted into the city's Healthy San Francisco program after the incident, but previously did not have medical insurance. Employed as a server at the Old Clam House, he's been unable to complete a shift since being struck by the SUV.
Like many working-class San Franciscans, he's a renter who lives paycheck to paycheck. A benefit at the Old Clam House drew support from friends, coworkers, and the cycling community, but it's too early to say how his life will be affected in the long run.
Several days after the four cyclists were hit, 39-year-old David Mark Clark of Albany — the owner of the SUV — approached police with a story that he had been carjacked that night, but he was immediately arrested and charged in connection with the hit-and-runs. The San Francisco Police Department refused to release the police record from the incident, saying it was part of an ongoing investigation.
Clark has been held without bail in the psych ward of San Francisco County Jail since his arrest, according to Brendan Conroy, his criminal defense attorney. He pleaded not guilty to four counts of attempted murder, four counts of assault with a deadly weapon (a car), and three counts of battery causing serious bodily injury. He appeared in court in late July and is scheduled to go back Sept. 24. He has no prior criminal record.
The incident sent shock waves throughout the cyclist community, leaving people wondering what kind of a person could be capable of such a thing. People close to Clark told the Guardian they were shocked to learn of the charges against him.
Originally from Westchester County, N.Y., Clark worked as a tennis instructor, giving lessons in Berkeley. He was also known to be a practitioner of reiki — a kind of energy healing — and was deeply interested in crystal healing techniques and meditation.
If his Facebook contacts are any indication, Clark surrounded himself with massage therapists, energy healers, life coaches, and musicians. David Schlussel, a yoga instructor who underwent a reiki session with Clark, said he was "flabbergasted" when he heard of the charges. "He's so into peace and kindness, and he's a cyclist himself," he said, noting that if Clark is found guilty of running down the cyclists, it would reflect "a psychotic break."
Another source — who said he'd known Clark since age 14 — described him as "the nicest guy," saying, "he was all love and peace and harmony." The youngest of eight children, Clark grew up in a close-knit Christian family and moved to the Bay Area a little more than a year ago, drawn in part by a rich network of new age and spiritual organizations. He described Clark as "a student of life and spirituality, and definitely zealous about it."
He said he hadn't spoken to Clark in the weeks prior to the incident, but word in his social circles was that Clark may have been acting strangely in the days before the rampage, possibly not sleeping and meditating more than usual. "This was some freak situation that I don't even know the details of," he said. Whatever happened, Clark's friend was insistent that "this has nothing to do with any bicyclist hate. That's just a crock."