Santa Cruz, d. 8.June.2011, killed by
hit and run driver.
Body found near UCSC campus likely victim of hit and run
By Stephen Baxter
Santa Cruz Sentinel, June 8, 2011
SANTA CRUZ - The body of a 25-year-old Santa Cruz bicyclist was
found about 8 a.m. Wednesday just off Empire Grade Road at the edge
of the UC Santa Cruz campus, the CHP reported.
California Highway Patrol officers are investigating the death as a
hit and run, said CHP officer Tyler Pudge. The victim's mother
identified her son, Zachary Parke, as the man on the bike.
Parke was riding from a friend's home on or near the UCSC campus to
the house he shared with his mother near Morrissey Boulevard, his
friends said. He was not a UCSC student but was a Santa Cruz native
who graduated from Santa Cruz High School.
"Everyone who knows him knows how gentle and kind he was," said his
mother, April Parke. "Everyone loved him because he was just such a
The body was found on Empire Grade Road north of Highview Drive by
another cyclist who noticed clothing and debris in the road, Pudge
Pudge said the driver of a burgundy Nissan or Infiniti is suspected
of hitting the cyclist on Tuesday night or Wednesday morning. Pieces
of the car's headlight were found at the scene, as well as paint
chips, bicycle parts and other debris.
The dark, seven-speed road bike was found overturned in some bushes
a few feet from the road on the southbound shoulder. Officers
believe the car and bicycle were traveling south toward Santa Cruz
during the collision.
The bike was found about 1/8 mile north of the Arboretum and
Highview Drive. The man's body was found about 20 feet from the
bicycle. Emergency responders declared him dead at the scene.
Law enforcement officers are looking for the car and driver. CHP
officer Sarah Jackson said the Nissan or Infiniti likely has a
damaged headlight, side mirror, fender or other damaged areas on its
The road where the collision took place is not lit at night. It's
unknown if the bicyclist was wearing a helmet, Pudge said.
Parke was a bicycle courier who was starting a business that sold
rock-climbing bags. He was an avid rock climber who often traveled
to Yosemite and other climbing spots.
"He's hooked into the climbing community," said family friend Mira
Makenna. "He was such a beautiful human being. It's very, very sad."
Makenna added that he was interested in raw food and loved animals.
He is survived by his 32-year-old sister, Elizabeth Parke of Los
Angeles and his mother, April Parke of Santa Cruz.
Parke's family and friends appealed to the public to help identify
the car and its driver.
What can I say about Zack?
He was an exceptional human being.
When I first met him, and he told me he wanted to be a Clutch
Courier, I wasn't convinced that the skinny kid I saw in line with
the bushels of lettuce and avocado would have what it takes to get
the job done.
But he kept pestering me, and I told him if he took my old Italvega
road bike (with gears and brakes) instead of his fixed gear bike, he
could have the job. Over the years he became my most reliable rider.
Zachary loved mountain climbing and spent most of his weekends in
Bishop or Yosemite. When he came back down off the mountain I could
still see it in his eyes.
Here was a man who had found a way to get as close to God as
possible, and he wrapped his whole life around getting back up there
as often as he could. Sometimes that competed with my priorities as
a business owner, but I had to give it to him, and it was a joy to
see someone pursue their dream so completely.
Zack always looked for and pointed out the good things in people and
in life. He exemplified them, too, always having the time to listen
to you and the generosity to offer a friendly, encouraging
He poured himself fully into the life of his choosing, and we have
to give him that. I keep expecting to pick up the phone and hear his
voice on the other side, "Hey Rick, it's Zack. Made the drop with
Jim, postering all done, keys are back. I'm off to climb Half-Dome!"
Copy that, Good Buddy. Except this time you don't have to come back
down off the mountain.
- Rick Graves, Clutch Couriers
Driver Accused Of Killing Zachary Parke Near UCSC Pleads Guilty
KSBW.com, February 9, 2012
A Live Oak man accused of killing bicyclist Zachary Parke in a
hit-and-run crash near the University of California at Santa Cruz
pleaded guilty on Thursday.
Elliot Sterling Dess, 21, reversed his not guilty plea as part of a
deal with prosecutors.
Inside a Santa Cruz courtroom Thursday morning, Dess looked at
Parke's mother and quietly said, "I'm guilty. I'm very sorry."
Parke, 25, of Santa Cruz , was killed while riding his bicycle just
after midnight on June, 8 2011. Parke was leaving UCSC's campus
after hanging out with friends who were students there.
He was struck on Empire Grade Road while peddling in an 8-foot wide
bike lane. Parke was experienced at navigating Santa Cruz 's road on
two wheels because he worked as a bicycle messenger for Clutch
Dess immediately fled the scene by driving away in his parent's
burgundy Nissan Maxima, the California Highway Patrol said.
Parke's mangled bicycle and body were found later that morning in
high brush along Empire Grade Road, the main route leading in and
out of UCSC.
Dess will receive a two year prison sentence. The judge said he
plans to give Dess a relatively short sentence for felony
hit-and-run and misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter because he is
young, admitted guilt, and had no prior criminal record.
Dess could be released from prison in one year for good behavior,
the judge said. Parke's mother, April Parke, expressed relief in
court after Dess pleaded guilty.
"Dess is finally taking responsibility for the unfathomable and
inhumane act of killing Zachary and leaving him on the side of the
road to die," April Parke said. "I don't think any (prison sentence)
is just unless it can bring Zachary back."
Dess' older brother, Benjamin Dess, 24, of Santa Cruz , is also
living in the Santa Cruz jail. He has been behind bars since July
2011 and is charged with selling drugs and beating up another inmate