General Crime

* Eric Banford identified as alleged hit and run driver in East Palo Alto that killed Danny Lee Dixon

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San Mateo County coroner’s officials have identified the motorcyclist who died in East Palo Alto this morning when a driver who was attempting to evade police crashed into him. East Palo Alto resident Danny Lee Dixon, 50, was struck by a Land Rover at Bay Road and University Avenue after the driver of the Land Rover led police on a chase.

The chase began after police responded to a 5:25 a.m. call from a resident of the 400 block of Bell Street who believed someone was trying to break into her home. “She heard voices in her backyard,” East Palo Alto police spokeswoman Veronica Barries said.Officers went to the neighborhood and spotted a dark-colored Land Rover and tried to pull it over, but the driver sped away, she said.

A brief chase followed, ending when the Land Rover struck Dixon while traveling the wrong way on University Avenue, Barries said.Dixon was pronounced dead at the scene.Police detained several people in the Land Rover for questioning, and arrested the driver, identified by Barries as 46-year-old Eric Banford, of East Palo Alto.Barries said Banford has an extensive criminal history.

She said the Police Department will investigate the circumstances of the chase and crash. “Our basic protocol is to conduct an investigation not only on the actual crime itself but on the pursuit,” Barries sasid.She said it appears the chase lasted less than 30 seconds, and that investigators will review footage from cameras inside the police cars involved.

Less than three hours later, a 6-year-old girl was fatally struck by a car driven by a teacher on her way to work — just a block away from where Dixon died. The girl was crossing Bay Road at Gloria Way in a crosswalk a few feet ahead of her mother and two younger sisters shortly after 8 a.m. when she was struck by an eastbound car, Barries said.

“She was on her way to school,” Barries said.The girl, a student at Green Oaks Academy whose name has not been released, was pronounced dead at the scene.The driver, Alisha Whiteparker, 49, of East Palo Alto, was on her way to teach at Costano Elementary School, Barries said. She stopped at the scene and cooperated with investigators. It is not yet clear what caused the accident.”It’s still all under investigation,” Barries said. “We’re taking a lot of things into account at this point.”

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