Charges have been filed against the driver the California Highway Patrol says caused a deadly crash near Arroyo Grande last year that claimed the life of a Cal Poly freshman and brought the safety of the intersection into question.
Richard Giuli was arraigned Thursday in San Luis Obispo Superior Court on a charge of misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence in connection with the Oct. 7, 2018 crash along southbound Highway 101 and El Campo Road near Arroyo Grande.
Giuli did not physically appear in court, but his attorney entered a not guilty plea on his behalf.
CHP says Giuli was making an “unsafe left turn” and turned onto the highway in front of Jordan Grant, 18.
Grant’s motorcycle struck Giuli’s vehicle. Grant died from his injuries.
The San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office says Giuli faces a maximum of one year in county jail.
The victim’s father, James Grant, attended the hearing Thursday. He said Giuli should be held accountable for the crash but also noted that another culprit cannot be ignored.
“I just want to caution people in rushing to judgment on Rich or any other drivers involved in accidents like this,” Grant said. “The fundamental root cause has been CalTrans should’ve closed this in 2011 based on what engineers said they needed to do and that’s where the failure occurred.”
The Grant family and many others are pushing for change at the crossing.
While some called for a closure, others are concerned it would impact evacuation routes, access to nearby businesses and commutes.
The San Luis Obispo Council of Governments (SLOCOG) voted on April 3 to support creating left-turn access restrictions on Highway 101 between Traffic Way and Los Berros Rd. south of Arroyo Grande.
The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors Tuesday also voted to approve support of Caltrans in the reducing what Caltrans describes as “conflict points” at that intersection and three others between Arroyo Grande and Nipomo.
Officials said Thursday plans are moving forward and they will release more detailed information early next month.
“The horrifying tragedy here is Rich is just Jordan 25 years from now,” Grant said. “Rich went to Cal Poly, a computer science grad, works for Apple in the area of A.I. (artificial intelligence). These are areas that Jordan was studying, this is what he was going to do. It’s heartbreaking for this to happen to Jordan, it’s heartbreaking for it to happen to Rich. There’s a shared pain.”