San Mateo man on trial after 2020 crash; prosecutors say he targeted group of teens on sidewalk

Trial continued this week in the case of a San Mateo man who allegedly struck four teenagers with his car, causing serious injuries — in retaliation for a prank that they actually didn’t do, according to prosecutors.

Omeed Adibi, now 23, is charged with five counts of attempted murder, five counts of assault with a deadly weapon and four counts of felony hit-and-run. He is currently in custody; his bail is set at $25,000,000.

His defense spent a portion of its time Monday examining Adibi’s mental state at the time of the crash, calling psychologists who had treated Adibi in the past to discuss their diagnoses and treatment.

Around 5:20 p.m. on Feb. 29, 2020, authorities say, Adibi drove his black Mercedes SUV into a group of five teenagers who were walking westbound on Howard Avenue near Clarendon Road in Burlingame. According to prosecutors, Adibi, “without provocation,” drove his car onto the sidewalk and hit four of the five boys, while one dodged out of the way. He then hit a fire hydrant and drove off with the hydrant trailing behind him.

He allegedly believed that the teenagers had tampered with his car as a prank. Burlingame police said that it was Adibi’s friends who actually did the prank.

Adibi stopped on the 800 block of Burlingame Avenue to remove the fire hydrant, prosecutors said, but other residents stopped him from leaving until police arrived and arrested him.

At the time of the crash, Adibi was 18 years old, while the group of boys were all 12 or 13 years old.

Prosecutors stated that, in the collision, one of the boys suffered a traumatic brain injury. Another boy’s spine was injured and his lungs bruised. Two other victims suffered foot fractures.

Adibi’s trial began in late March, with jury selection taking some two weeks.

Last week, jurors heard from one of the victims — named in court only as Ryan R. — who recounted the incident and described a video he had taken of the collision. When recalling the incident, he testified, he remembered the sound of Adibi’s car getting louder as he sped up.

The victim, asked about his injuries after the crash, gestured from his right hip up to his ribs. Ryan also said he sustained a cut to his left eyebrow and injured his back, leading to him wearing a brace for a long period of time.

The victim said that he had played for his school’s soccer team before the incident, but that he was not the same since the crash, citing frequent headaches, pain and numbness in his leg. He also said that he would frequently get scared and anxious whenever he heard cars speeding by, leading to flashbacks of the collision.

Four years after the crash, he testified, he doesn’t go out much and it still hurts to talk about what happened.

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Ryan’s mother testified after her son, discussing the injuries Ryan sustained and the effect they had on her son both physically and mentally. She recalled his 13-day stay at the hospital and how the incident impacted his schooling for months after the crash.

“His confidence was no longer the same,” she said of her son after the collision.

Prosecutors also called in experts who detailed the damage done to Adibi’s car and his victims. Rocklin police Officer Richard Scheno, who was with the Burlingame Police Department at the time of the crash, gave detailed observations of the injuries sustained by the victims, including bloody abrasions.

Trial continued this week after the prosecution rested its case. Adibi’s attorney, Jonathan McDougall, did not respond to a request for comment from the Bay Area News Group.

Dr. Gary Balestin, a psychologist who treated Adibi in 2018, testified for the defense that he diagnosed 16-year-old Adibi with bipolar disorder or cyclothymia, a mood disorder that’s considered less extreme than bipolar disorder, in addition to ADHD. Balestin said that the diagnosis correlated with his observations of Adibi’s impulsivity, irritability, lack of focus and depressive mood and suicidal thoughts.

The defense also called Dr. Michelle Kwok, a psychiatrist who treated Adibi in 2018, to the stand. She corroborated Balestin’s diagnosis of cyclothymia and noted that he was having difficulties in his environment. She also said that Adibi’s symptoms were severe enough to cause difficulties in life.

Kwok said she prescribed Adibi two mood stabilizers, eventually increasing their dosage during their eight sessions together. The doctor said that while she saw some improvements in his school performance and his mood, Adibi’s symptoms still remained pervasive, including suicidal ideations and sleep irregularity.

Although she had made suggestions to increase the dosage of his medication or try to work with an executive function coach, she said Adibi did not return after the eighth session.

If you or someone you know is struggling with feelings of depression or suicidal thoughts, the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline offers free, round-the-clock support, information and resources for help. Call or text the lifeline at 988, or see the website, where chat is available.

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