A Berkeley peace activist, thwarted in one suicide attempt, apparently succeeded in another, more dramatic bid to end his life Friday.
Jasper Summer, 46, died in a one-car, high-speed accident near the intersection of The Alameda and Yolo Avenue moments before 2 a.m.
Summers described himself as a landscaper in his campaign contributions to the Democratic Party. He was also a donor to presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich, and posted comments on peace sites and on sites questioning the official account of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
Police Sgt. Mary Kusmiss told Bay City News the chain of events that ended in a crash that one nearby resident likened to an earthquake began at about 1:50 a.m.
A homeless man riding a bicycle flagged down a police sergeant and told her he saw a man sitting in a silver Subaru parked near the intersection of Bancroft Way and Fulton Street.
The homeless man said a piece of black plastic tubing was attached to the tailpipe of the vehicle and looped into one of the vehicle's windows, according to Kusmiss. He had pulled the tubing from the tailpipe and tried to talk to the man inside the vehicle, saying, “You don't want to do this,” Kusmiss said.
The police sergeant was led to the vehicle, parked in a commercial area, and asked the man inside to roll down his window. The man refused, so the sergeant tried to break the window as the air inside began looking hazy, according to Kusmiss.
The man suddenly drove off and the police sergeant followed him as he swerved through various lanes of traffic and ran stop signals, Kusmiss said.
Officers following the man backed off due to his erratic driving, and last spotted him at about 1:55 a.m. driving northbound on Martin Luther King Jr. Way crossing University Avenue at a high rate of speed, Kusmiss said.
Two minutes later, police dispatch was flooded with 911 calls from residents who heard a loud collision.
Arriving officers discovered a crash scene on The Alameda just south of Yolo Avenue, with the Subaru resting upside down on the hood of a Ford pickup truck, according to Kusmiss.
“This was a very dramatic collision,” she said.
Summer was removed with the help of metal-cutting machines and pronounced dead on the scene, Kusmiss said.
Investigators determined Summer had been driving northbound on The Alameda between 80 mph and 100 mph when his vehicle crossed into the southbound lanes, hitting a parked green BMW.
The Subaru then hit a parked Dodge Shadow, pushing the Dodge into a tree and causing it to spin into the middle of the road, according to Kusmiss.
The impact also caused the Subaru to become airborne, sending it crashing upside down onto the roof of the Ford pickup truck, Kusmiss said.
Debris from the accident was spread about 246 feet down the roadway, and an investigation and cleanup kept the street closed for about 6.5 hours, Kusmiss said.
There were no eyewitnesses, and investigators may never know if the fatal crash was intentional.