California man who crashed into pedestrians was retired from Army

Published 7:55 am Thursday, April 25, 2019

SUNNYVALE, Calif. — A California man who authorities said drove into a crosswalk in a quiet Silicon Valley suburb, injuring eight people, is an Iraqi war veteran who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, his mother told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Sunnyvale Police Department said in a tweet that the suspect is Isaiah Joel Peoples, a 34-year-old resident of Sunnyvale. He was arrested Tuesday night after speeding through an intersection and crashing his Toyota Corolla into a tree. The conditions of the injured, which included a 13-year-old girl, were not immediately disclosed.

Peoples is retired from the U.S. Army, said a spokeswoman for the Pentagon.

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He is an auditor for the Department of Defense in Mountain View, said his mother, Leevell Peoples of Sacramento, California, on Wednesday.

She couldn’t fathom any situation in which her timid son would deliberately crash into innocent people, other than something related to the PTSD he experienced after serving as an Army sharpshooter in Iraq, she said.

“Unless the car malfunctioned, he would not have done that. He’s like the perfect, model citizen,” she said. “He’s an Army vet, he’s a good kid, never been arrested. I promise you: it was not deliberate. If anything, it was that Army.”

She said he received inpatient treatment for PTSD in 2015.

The crash occurred at a large intersection in an area of commercial strip malls in Sunnyvale, which residents describe as a quiet suburb. Businesses and roads were back open Wednesday morning, and police tape removed.

The only sign of the crash was skid marks on the sidewalk where the car had swerved up, and a dented tree that Peoples crashed into, muttering thanks to Jesus as he slumped over the steering wheel of a hissing car.

Don Draper, 72, said he was waiting in his convertible for the light to turn green when the Toyota zoomed by. Draper said he was so enraged that he marched over to the car.

“He wasn’t hurt apparently, and he was mumbling over and over again, ‘thank you Jesus, thank you Jesus, thank you Jesus’ again and again,” Draper said. “And at this point I realized I had to call 911.”