The parent of a Berkeley High School student died of apparent natural causes in his van parked in front of the school on Allston Way Thursday afternoon while waiting to pick up his son. The African-American man, appearing to be in his late 30s to mid-40s, was not identified to press by the Berkeley Police pending notification of next of kin.
While police waited for Alameda County Coroner’s deputies to arrive on the scene, Berkeley High School personnel spent an anxious hour trying to locate the victim’s son before he walked up on the scene. Armed with photocopied pictures of the student, counselors, administrators, and security personnel blocked the area around Allston Way and searched the schoolgrounds.
The student was located after the body had been removed, and was whisked away to an undisclosed location on the schoolgrounds by a protective group of school personnel.
Witnesses said that the victim parked his van near Berkeley High’s Allston Way gate about 2 o’clock, and slumped over at the wheel shortly afterwards. A pair of young men on bicycles flagged down a passing police officer after noticing the man was not moving.
The Alameda County Coroners Office had not issued a cause of death at press time, but a police spokesperson said there was no indication of anything other than natural causes. There were unconfirmed reports that the man was wearing a diabetes medallion around his neck at the time of his death.
Students gathered in crowds in Civic Center Park across from the school, but school security officers kept them from congregating near the van. A Berkeley police officer covered the body with a sheet, and the victim was not visible to students exiting the school.