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Car parts are mixed in with tree and fence debris at the scene of a car accident in Fremont, Calif., on Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012, were a vehicle lost control along Grimmer Boulevard and crashed Wednesday evening. The driver was seriously injured and transported to Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley. (Anda Chu/Staff)

FREMONT -- When Leon and Marilyn Goheen moved into their house on quiet, residential Robin Street nearly 50 years ago, they believed they had found their suburban oasis.

Unfortunately for the couple, the city soon thereafter built Grimmer Boulevard -- a busy curving thoroughfare that residents describe as a veritable "Dead man's Curve."

Over the years, residents say at least 14 accidents -- some fatal -- have involved vehicles traveling along Grimmer, on which two lanes run in each direction behind their homes. Eight of those were motorists who smashed through the Goheens' backyard fence, which borders the Irvington and South Sundale neighborhoods.

Leon Goheen said the problem has compromised his family's quality of life, making it difficult for him to relax with his grandchildren in their pool or their well-traveled backyard.

"Once, our son was sitting in our backyard when a skidding car caused him to run toward our house for safety," he told the City Council on Tuesday. "That's what we live with every day."

And the problem may be worsening. Within the past month, one motorist died after crashing into a neighboring home, and another was injured when his vehicle plowed through the Goheens' fence.

"Had this one gone into the pool, the driver would have drowned because he was pinned inside the vehicle," Goheen said. "When rainfall comes, there will be more accidents."


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The area's neighbors say Grimmer Boulevard, whose curve radius is 580 feet for its outside lane, causes accidents because it is not properly designed. Also, a 35 MPH speed limit sign along the turn has been ineffective in deterring speedsters, Goheen said.

The neighbors have made several suggestions for slowing traffic, including the installation of a guard rail between the curb and sidewalk or an electric sign flashing the word "Slow."

"We can't keep having these accidents," said Carol LaFleur, a longtime Fremont resident. "It's a definite problem; we need a resolution."

City officials said they have begun discussing solutions but still are in the preliminary stages. Norm Hughes, Fremont's city engineer, said they are looking into enhancing the boulevard's existing signage to help remind motorists about the approaching curve or applying a high-friction coating to the roadway so vehicles do not slide while driving around the corner.

They are considering installing a guard rail though they typically are not used in a city setting, Hughes said. "Hitting a guard rail can be dangerous for motorists," he said.

Unless some type of change is made soon, it's just a matter of time before there's another accident, Goheen said. "Lives have been lost and that's unbearable," he said.

Contact Chris De Benedetti at 510-353-7011. Follow him at Twitter.com/cdebenedetti.