23 Aug 2014
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Man Involved in Fatal Sycamore Collision Due in Court Wednesday

John Peder Harris, of Walnut Creek, is expected to be arraigned on two charges of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence Wednesday in Contra Costa County Superior Court.

Man Involved in Fatal Sycamore Collision Due in Court Wednesday

The Walnut Creek man involved in the November collision that left a Danville mother and her daughter dead is expected to be arraigned on two charges of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence Wednesday.

John Peder Harris, 32, was arrested at the end of January when . The arraignment is at 8:30 a.m. in Contra Costa Bray Courthouse, 1020 Ward St., Martinez.

The arrest of Harris came after a lengthy investigation by the Danville Police Department.

The collision took place on the afternoon of Nov. 7 at Sycamore Valley Road and Brookside Drive.

According to Danville Police, Harris was driving a Toyota 4-Runner, traveling westbound on Sycamore Valley Road. Authorities say Harris ran the red light at the intersection and struck a southbound Dodge Durango.

Elham Pirdavari, 51, of Danville, was driving the vehicle and her mother, Mahin Dowlati, 72, also of Danville, was in the passenger seat. Both women were killed in the accident.

Contra Costa County Deputy District Attorney Alison Chandler said Harris was alleged to have a seizure disorder. Chandler said the court sealed all medical records of the defendant and said it would not be appropriate to comment further on the disorder.

She did say that it is one of three alleged factors that lead to the fatal collision.

"The factors include running a red light, speeding and a seizure disorder," she said.

Danville Police Chief Steve Simpkins said the department's investigation showed no extraneous factors, such as texting, cell phone use or alcohol use, were involved in the accident.

“We believe this accident was caused by a negligent decision to drive, which resulted in tragedy,” Simpkins said.

Chandler added that Harris was going at least 62 miles per hour.

Chandler said that Harris' license was not suspended and there were no restrictions on his license. "He had a valid license," Chandler said.

If convicted on the two charges, Chandler said the sentences wouldn't merge into each other. He would have to serve both of them. The maximum Harris could face would be seven years and four months in prison.

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