Police identify driver in Hwy. 101 standoff as Tennessee man

The Associated Press
Saturday July 06, 2002

PALO ALTO — A Tennessee man led police on a 100-mph chase along San Francisco Bay area highways Friday morning before forcing a four-hour standoff that closed the southbound lanes of U.S. 101. 

Robert B. Sidicane of Nashville, Tenn., was booked at San Mateo County jail for reckless driving, felony evading arrest and resisting arrest, police said. 

Sidicane, 41, might be mentally ill, California Highway Patrol spokesman Fritz Eberly said. 

When asked by officers why he fled, Sidicane responded, “I had important things to do,” police said. 

“The non-responsiveness and his evasiveness indicate a potential this is someone who is mentally unstable,” Eberly said. 

Sidicane was taken to Stanford Medical Center for evaluation and then transported to county jail. 

The incident shut down one of two major highways between San Francisco and San Jose. 

Officers ended the standoff by filling the car with firefighting foam and water — Sidicane doused himself and the car with gasoline. Pictures from helicopters above the scene showed a stain of liquid coming from the front of the car and spreading across the pavement. 

Officials had said throughout the morning that there was a passenger in the car, but confirmed at a news conference that only Sidicane was inside. 

Three of the car’s four tires were blown out by a spike strip, and the vehicle sat alone in the second of four southbound lanes starting around 5:30 a.m. The car, a red Oldsmobile with Tennessee license plates, was near the exit to Palo Alto and Stanford University. 

The chase started when an officer stopped to assist the driver of a disabled vehicle in Livermore, about a 40-mile drive from Palo Alto, California Highway Patrol spokesman Richard Franklin said. The driver sped off as the officer approached, heading westbound on Interstate 580 and then crossing the Bay Bridge into San Francisco and heading south on U.S. 101. 

The incident closed U.S. 101 southbound for hours, though northbound traffic was moving fine. It came during the morning rush hour, though traffic was light owing to the holiday weekend. 

It was the second major morning rush-hour traffic problem in three days in the San Francisco Bay area. 

On Wednesday, police shot a man suspected of kidnapping his estranged wife and holding her at gunpoint on a freeway overpass near the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, a situation that forced officials to close all but one of the freeways approaching the bridge from the east.