Riders' deaths rattle cyclists in Bay Area By Denis C. Theriault, Joe Rodriguez and Leslie Griffy MEDIANEWS STAFF Article Launched: 03/11/2008 03:04:25 AM PDT SAN JOSE -- There was no screech, no bang -- no noise to warn bicyclist Daniel Brasse what was coming around the corner Sunday morning on Stevens Canyon Road. A Santa Clara County sheriff's patrol car was facing the wrong way on the wrong side of the road after slamming into a group of Brasse's riding partners. A deputy was walking around in a daze, later telling at least two witnesses that he had fallen asleep. One of Brasse's friends, Matt Peterson, 30, was already dead. Another, Christopher Knapp, 20, was writhing in agony, with two limbs broken. And the third, 31-year-old Kristianna Gough, her leg severed and her head bleeding, was gasping for air. As he pedaled toward the gruesome scene, all Brasse could hear were screams. "Screams of pain," he said, his voice cracking. On Monday, Brasse told his story for the first time and the Bay Area cycling community continued to grapple with the deaths of two riders, one of them an Olympic hopeful. But the one question on everyone's mind remained: How, exactly, did the deputy's white cruiser on a routine patrol come to veer across a double yellow line? Brasse, who ran to Gough's side in the aftermath of the 10:30 a.m. crash, his first-aid training coming to life, never spoke with the deputy, 27-year-old James Council. But another cyclist, who had parked his car nearby, said the deputy was in a state of shock. "I saw the officer pacing back and forth on the roadway. He said, 'I must have fallen asleep,'" Advertisement said Bryce Renshaw, a San Jose chiropractor. Kevin Valerio, who was riding behind the four riders, said that Council seemed very disoriented. Another deputy was walking Council to her squad car as onlookers gathered, he said. "She said don't talk to those people, put her arm around him and took him to the car," Renshaw said. Council, whose father also is a sheriff's deputy, could not be reached for comment Monday night. He was placed on paid administrative leave. California Highway Patrol investigators indicated that there was no evidence the deputy fell asleep. Council had been on duty since 6 a.m., Santa Clara County Sheriff's Sgt. Don Morrissey said. "We are asking people to avoid speculation, and we are avoiding speculating," said CHP officer Todd Thibodeau, adding that a CHP inquiry could take 30 days. It is unclear how fast the patrol car was going, how far it crossed the center line and where exactly on the opposite side of the road Council struck the group, Thibodeau said. "'Why' is going to be a big question," he said. Morrissey described Council as "very emotional" after the crash. He was sent home with a crisis team that helps fellow deputies deal with traumatic events. Knapp, a German racer who was training with the group, is recovering from a broken arm and leg. He declined to talk Monday afternoon when reached at Stanford Hospital. Gough's mother, Karen Sue Clarkson, had raced to the hospital when she heard about the crash, but she arrived 10 minutes too late. Clarkson remembered a daughter who was athletic from the start and left Chabot College to pursue her dream of becoming a pro triathlete. "The first time she saw a triathlon on TV she said, 'That's it! That's what I want to do,'" Clarkson said. Gough switched to competitive cycling recently. Friends say she won every race and quickly caught the eye of U.S. cycling officials. She was training for pre-Olympic time trials next weekend in Visalia. Anthony Borba, Third Pillar's captain, said she was the only woman on the team and one of the most selfless members. Peterson rode with the rival Roaring Mouse cycling club but was still friendly enough to train with Third Pillar, Borba said. "It's a measure of a man when he has friends." Roaring Mouse co-founder Larry Rosa remembers hearing four years ago from Peterson, who said he was looking to get into shape after he hit nearly 300 pounds. Rosa said the newcomer's outgoing personality and cycling were a perfect match. Borba said the two teams are talking about taking part in a memorial ride Saturday. For Brasse, surviving the crash brings a sense of luck -- and guilt. He and Knapp, the other survivor, "both feel a link for life now."