A driver and his passenger died Tuesday afternoon in a crash on Marin Avenue, May 11, 2021. Credit: Citizen reporter

Update, Feb. 24, 2022: The investigation report remains incomplete pending analyses from outside agencies, but the cause of the fatal crash on Marin Avenue in May 2021 appears to have been mechanical due to brake failure, BPD has told Berkeleyside.

Update, May 13: On Thursday, the Alameda County coroner’s office identified the individuals who died after Tuesday’s crash in the Berkeley Hills as 64-year-old Anthony Keith Rollins and 57-year-old Ruby Jean Edwards. Neither one had a permanent address on file, the coroner’s office said.

Update, May 12, noon. Authorities have not released the names of the man and woman who died in Tuesday’s crash on Marin Avenue pending family notification but, on Wednesday afternoon, police shared some additional details about the crash itself. Police identified the woman who survived the crash as a 42-year-old mother from Kensington. Her 3-year-old daughter, who was with her in the car at the time of the collision, was not harmed, police said. According to BPD, the woman had been heading south on Spruce Street in her Audi SUV and had just turned right onto Marin Avenue, to head west, when the driver in a westbound Toyota struck her Tuesday at about 1:40 p.m. The investigation is continuing, BPD said, and police “hope to learn more over the next few days.”

Update, May 11, 3:30 p.m. A woman who was driving down Marin Avenue with her 17-year-old daughter just before Tuesday’s deadly crash, which killed two people, described the harrowing scene to Berkeleyside.

Cecelia Mautner was on her way to get vaccinated when she saw something she had never seen before. The driver behind her was going unbelievably fast, said Mautner, who has lived in the neighborhood since 2006.

“I saw the car lift off the ground. The actual vehicle was airborne,” she said. “It was flying.”

Mautner said she was terrified the driver would hit her. As he got closer, he veered into oncoming traffic — luckily there was no one coming — to get around her.

“All I could see was this car hurtling towards us,” she said. “I think it must have missed us by a hairline.”

Mautner said she had no time to react. Looking down Marin, she saw the burgundy sedan that had been behind her rapidly approaching a gray or silver car in the distance.

A mother and child were in this sedan, which was struck by a driver on Marin Avenue on Tuesday, May 11, 2021. Credit: Ian Wood

“Somebody’s going to get killed,” she thought. From what she could see, the driver wasn’t doing anything to slow his momentum. Then the collision happened. She saw the burgundy vehicle flip multiple times in the air.

Mautner said, even from a distance, she could see pedestrians in the area running toward the crash to see if they could help.

“I could just see the looks of horror on their faces,” she said.

Update, 3:20 p.m. The driver in the crash has also died, police report.

Original story: At least one person has died and another is in critical condition after a two-car crash on Marin Avenue in Berkeley on Tuesday afternoon.

Marin Avenue is closed and police have advised motorists to avoid the area from Marin Circle to Grizzly Peak while the investigation is underway.

Scene of fatal Marin Avenue crash on May 11, 2021
The scene of Tuesday’s fatal crash on Marin Avenue, May 11, 2021. Credit: Citizen reporter Credit: Citizen reporter

The crash brought down a power line just west of Spruce Street at Marin, said Officer Byron White, Berkeley police spokesperson. PG&E is at the scene and plans to shut off power for six to seven hours to repair the damage. The outage may affect 1,000 PG&E customers, he said.

Limited information was available as of publication time, but White said at least one of the drivers was westbound on Marin just before 1:40 p.m. when the collision happened. The other driver was on or near Marin, he said.

After the crash, one of the vehicles came to rest at Marin near Santa Barbara Road, and the other came to rest one block away at Marin and San Benito Road.

The Berkeley Fire Department arrived quickly and, in one vehicle, found an adult female passenger who had died. The male driver in that car was critically injured, White said. He was taken to the hospital.

In the other vehicle, a mother, whose child was also in the car, was taken to the hospital, White said. The woman’s injuries did not appear to be as severe as the driver from the other car, White said. (Police described the female driver’s injuries in a subsequent update as moderate.)

BPD’s Fatal Accident Investigation Team was dispatched to the scene to oversee the investigation. As of 3 p.m., police remained at Marin and Spruce collecting witness statements and evidence.

Police had no information as of publication time as far as what may have caused Tuesday’s crash, White said. Police ask anyone with information about the collision to call BPD’s Traffic Unit at 510-981-5980.

Councilmember Susan Wengraf, whose district is the Berkeley Hills, said the city has been working for years to find ways to make the area safer for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers.

“It’s scary because Cragmont Elementary School is right there,” she said. “We just repainted the crosswalks last week. We’ve been very concerned about pedestrian safety.”

Wengraf noted that parents often park on Marin and cross the street with their children to get to Cragmont, which is located on Regal Road.

“It’s a challenging street to drive on because of the steep grade,” she said. “We do have stop signs. But when you’re coming down the hill, the stop signs aren’t always effective.”

This story was updated after publication due to the developing nature of events.

Emilie Raguso (former senior editor, news) joined Berkeleyside in 2012 and covered politics, public safety and development until her departure in 2022. In 2017, Emilie was named Journalist of the Year...