The City of Novato and the parents of Melody Osheroff, a 9-year-old girl who was tragically killed on May 28, 2009, agreed on a $675,000 settlement Nov. 26 regarding the Osheroffs’ civil lawsuit.

In addition, the City and the Osheroffs will work together to erect a memorial for Melody at an undecided Novato park.

“We are glad to have reached agreement with the Osheroff family,” said City Manager Michael Frank. “We understand that the Osheroffs will never recover from this tragic loss, but we hope with the installation of a memorial, the community will have an opportunity to continue to honor Melody.”

According to a statement released by the City of Novato: “The City has assumed no liability and continues to believe that motorcyclist John Edward Schaefer was entirely responsible for the collision. Schaefer was traveling in excess of 60 mph (in a 35-mph zone) and disregarded a stop-ahead sign, and two stops signs, before striking Melody and Aaron Osheroff.”

Melody was pronounced dead nine hours after the collision at Children’s Hospital and Research Center Oakland. Aaron was severely injured and lost his leg.

Schaefer, the drunken motorcyclist, was a Novato resident. He also had a history of DUI convictions.

“Novato is a zero-tolerance community when it comes to impaired driving,” Frank said, “and we continue to be vigilant with our DUI enforcement efforts.”

Schaefer was found guilty and charged with five counts, including murder in the second degree and sentenced to 24-years-to-life in prison. Weeks into his incarceration at San Quentin State Prison Schafer was stabbed to death by inmate Frank Anthony Souza in July, 2010. He was gouged in the chest and neck with a homemade prison shank made from bunk-bed metal.

Because the Schaefer Estate had minimal assets, the City of Novato, under California law, was at risk to pay nearly all of Aaron Osheroff’s economic damages, which could have totaled in the millions, according to the City. Those damages included past and future medical bills and wage losses.

To avoid fatal DUI collisions Novato officers receive advanced training in detecting both alcohol and drug-impaired driving. The Novato Police Department was awarded $162,000 of grant funding from the California Office of Traffic Safety to assist enforcement of traffic safety and detection and arrest of impaired drivers in Novato, and DUI arrests have increased by more than 28 percent for the first nine months of 2012, as compared to the same period in 2011, according to the NPD.

Contact Nicole Baptista at nbaptista@marinscope.com.

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