David Halberstam Killed in Car Crash

Bay City News
Tuesday April 24, 2007

MENLO PARK (BCN)—Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and author David Halberstam was killed this morning in a three-vehicle crash near the Dumbarton Bridge in Menlo Park, the San Mateo County Coroner’s Office reported. 

According to a spokeswoman with the University of California, Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, Halberstam left Berkeley this morning and was on his way to an interview in the South Bay about a new book he was working on about the Korean War. Halberstam was being driven to the interview by a graduate student at the journalism school. 

Halberstam had given a lecture Saturday at an alumni conference at the school, the spokeswoman said. 

Halberstam, 73, of New York City, was a passenger in one of the vehicles and was the only fatality, according to Deputy Coroner Michelle Rippy. 

The crash was reported shortly after 10:30 a.m. on the westbound Bayfront Expressway at Willow Road, according to Menlo Park police Public Information Officer Nicole Acker. Menlo Park Fire District units also responded to the crash. 

According to Fire District Chief Harold Schapelhouman, emergency units arrived to find Halberstam trapped in the passenger side of a red Toyota Camry and the car’s motor compartment on fire. 

While the fire was extinguished, emergency crews worked to free Halberstam from the passenger side of the vehicle, which had been caved in about 18 to 24 inches by the impact of the collision, Schapelhouman said. 

Halberstam was extricated but had no pulse and was not breathing, according to Schapelhouman. Life-saving measures were not successful and Halberstam was pronounced dead at the scene, he said. 

According to the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism spokeswoman, the male driver of the car in which Halberstam was riding is a student at the journalism school and was taken to Stanford Medical Center. He is believed to be “doing OK,” the spokeswoman said. 

Two other cars were involved in the crash, Schapelhouman said, the primary one a late-model, green Infiniti. Its driver was taken to Stanford Medical Center, he said. The female driver of the third vehicle, a silver Nissan coupe, was uninjured, according to Schapelhouman. 

Police are still looking for witnesses to help in their investigation, Acker said. Anyone with information about the collision is asked to call Menlo Park police at (650) 330-6300. 

Halberstam is widely known for his coverage of the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights movement and also penned several books on sports. He was born in New York City and received the Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on the Vietnam War.