Questions remain as to how car wound up in canal, killing a Walnut Creek native and leaving his elderly father missing

Police are still trying to determine what caused a car to lose control as it traveled north on San Miguel Drive Sunday evening, then fly into a canal and kill a 40-year-old man, injure his 74-year-old mother, and leave his 79-year-old father missing. 

For unknown reasons, the Honda sedan, carrying members of the Hogan family, apparently slammed through an intersection, and crashed through a fence into the canal that runs behind the downtown Safeway.

The car overturned and landed in the rushing, rain-soaked waters of the canal, known as Walnut Creek. The crash killed the driver, who was identified as Tim Hogan, 40, a native of Walnut Creek and 1987 graduate of Las Lomas High School who more recently had been living in San Diego.

The crash sent two others, Hogan’s mother, Janet, and father, James, into the water.

While Tim Hogan was trapped in the car, as it floated several hundred yards north, his parents somehow made it out of the car. Janet floated about three miles north, to a spot near Bancroft Road and Treat Boulevard. Witnesses said she was concious and managing to keep her head above water for about two miles. When she was pulled out of the water by a CHP helicopter and rescue personnel, she was unconscious but breathing and transported to John Muir Medical Center. She was said to be recovering Monday evening.

The third person in the car, James Hogan, is still missing.

Police are trying to figure out how Honda Accord, belonging to James and Janet Hogan, went veering into the canal. So far there are no first hand accounts. It doesn’t appear that any other cars were involved. At the time, at around 6:10 p.m., it was raining pretty heavily throughout Walnut Creek.

San Miguel Drive has a slight decline north past Sierra Drive, but then it levels out. The speed limit in that stretch is 25 mph. San Miguel Drive then curves to the left and comes to the intersection with Walker Drive. Looking directly north at that intersection, across Walker Drive, is the cyclone fence lining the canal. The vehicle would have had a straight shot across the intersection before it crashed right through that fence.

The fence had been repaired and replaced as of Monday morning.

17 thoughts on “Questions remain as to how car wound up in canal, killing a Walnut Creek native and leaving his elderly father missing

  1. One would think they would place a wall anywhere it's likely an automobile could break through Come on, a chain link fence? That is just stupid.


  2. Anon 12:59 do you know the area? I pass through that at least twice a day. How can you say it was likely that an automobile could break through this place? In my mind there are only three possible explanations for the accident. A) The driver passed out and totally lost control over the car. B) There was a major technical malfunction of the car, or C) This was a case of incredible reckless driving. There is a stop at the end of San Miguel and crosswalks on either side on Walker/Mt Diablo.

    Following your logic we need to wall off all streets everywhere. And now that would just be stupid.


  3. 12:07,

    The article states that Hogan was a WC native. It says that Tim hogan had more RECENTLY been living in San Diego. Stop speculating and wait for the investigative findings.


  4. Prayers to Ms. Hogan. She's lost both her husband and son. I just can't articulate how terrible I feel about this tragedy.


  5. 1:50 – True, 12:07 is jumping to conclusions, and should not.

    At the same time, I have been living & working in the W.C. vicinity for nearly 20 years, have probably been down that portion of the canal trail hundreds of times, but have never been on San Miguel.

    It is possible to be a native and be unfamiliar with a road.

    Still, you are correct that 12:07 should not jump to conclusions.


  6. Additionally, and I know the area well, there is a wide entrance to the parking area for condos along that part of Walker. In driving rain it would be possible to not see the stop sign and assume that the road continued straight ahead. It is a confusing meeting of many streets, and you don't realize there is a rushing watershed below until it is too late.

    It is a horrific circumstance.


  7. A lawsuit against WC and CCWD will be filed for negligence for failing to anticipate that the motor vehicle could travel practically unimpeded into the channel.

    Steel posts should have been installed to prevent such an incident.


  8. “In driving rain it would be possible to not see the stop sign and assume that the road continued straight ahead.”

    Wouldn't that be a reason to reduce your speed? If you can't see the grass and fence in time to stop your car how could you see the pedestrians or other cars which also might be in the area?

    I'm not saying it isn't a horrible accident but I don't buy that it was stupid to only have a chain linked fence instead of a wall.

    How about walls around all the trees along roads? How about walls on Highway 4 along the delta?

    Maybe I'm just to cranky today but I don't like it everytime an accident occurs one has to find somobdy else at fault.


  9. Welcome to Amerika where few take personal responsibility – gotta play the victim and blame it on somebody else.

    Akin to taking out a mortgage that one cannot actually pay and then blaming the “greedy banks” when it was the person's own greed and speculation on making a quick buck.


  10. I know this family… they are wonderful people and this is an unbelievable tragedy. Please, no more fault finding, just condolences for all of them.


  11. Once again, I wish people would stop speculating and wait for the investigative findings. It's foolish on the speculator's part and obviously hurtful to those who know or may be family to the victims.

    Just because there are no skid marks doesn't make it intentional. It could mean someone had stroke or a seizure (or any number of things) that could cause an accident.

    I know a pre-teen girl who was swimming in a pond (in the Grass Valley area) and drowned. She was revived but sustained significant, permanent brain damage. The investigation could not determine the exact cause, but the PD and MDs presume she had a seizure while swimming. Sometimes things just happen.

    Speculation holds no value in this incident and, IMO, it's ghoulish.


    I am terribly sorry for the Hogan family and friends of the Hogans. There is so little I can say to express how I feel.


  12. I caught part of a KCBS report on this accident late last night (in addition to following it on the local blogs and newspaper Web sites). I'm not sure (since I caught only part), but I believe the report said that the mother told authorities that she thought her son had had a seizure just prior to the accident.

    Whatever the cause, it's very sad.


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