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Adrian Albert, 35, killed by hit-and-run driver

The Highway 12 accident that killed cyclist Adrian T. Albert on Friday, June 5, has taken on wider repercussions as the tech community he worked with is mourning his loss, and raising funds to return his body to his family in Romania, his homeland.

Online remembrance of Adrian Albert

Adrian Albert's memorial will be on Wednesday, June 24, starting at 1 p.m. in 25-person live increments. People are welcome to join via Zoom as well to celebrate his life:

Go here to sign up.

Albert, 35, was struck from behind by the side-view mirror of a truck at about 8:20 p.m. near the entrance to B.R. Cohn Winery in Glen Ellen. His body was thrown off the road by the impact as the truck sped on down Highway 12 toward Sonoma, leaving the young entrepreneur and environmentalist on the side of the road. He eventually succumbed to his injuries.

Several days passed before the Sonoma County Coroner was able to release the name of the victim, because contacting his next-of-kin proved difficult. Albert was from Romania, where his parents and sister still live.

A cause of death has not yet been released, but a Dodge Dakota truck with damage on its front end, and a missing side-view mirror, was found in Boyes Hot Springs a couple miles from the scene of the accident.

Likewise the cause of the accident remains unknown. Albert was riding southbound on Highway 12 inside the “fog line,” according to the CHP report. The truck was traveling at an unknown speed in the same direction. Though it was dusk, visibility is good and the highway approaching the scene is straight and clear. Albert was evidently wearing a helmet at the time of the accident.

The news of his passing hit those who knew him particularly hard, not only because of his personality but the work he was engaged in. He was the co-founder and CEO of a company called Terrafuse, “a venture-backed startup that uses artificial intelligence to provide actionable climate intelligence for our entire planet, including prediction of extreme climate events” according to its website at terrafuse.ai.

According to friends, he was researching ways to predict the location of future wildfires.

Albert got his PhD from Stanford, and continued his studies in machine learning and energy grids at MIT. While Albert’s home address was most recently in Kensington, in the East Bay, he was apparently waiting out the pandemic at the home of friends in the Sonoma area, which allowed him to be near the rural and wilderness environment he valued, and was working to preserve through computer technology.

Hunter Connell, an executive at Terrafuse, started a Go Fund Me page to raise funds to cover transportation and burial expenses, and to help with legal fees associated with the hit-and-run case.

“Adrian Anthony Albert was a person of true excellence,” said Connell. “He was an entrepreneur, a dear friend, a loved family member, an avid outdoorsman and environmentalist, a passionate scientist and engineer, and a low-ego, high impact leader with unwavering integrity and grit.”

“His startup was to predict wildfires to help protect places like Sonoma,” said Tim O’Brien of Sonoma. “He was riding a bike … because he cared about the place he lived and would rather quietly set a good example.”

Richard Dale, of the Sonoma Ecology Center, said he was familiar with Albert, though hadn’t worked with him directly.

“He seemed like an interesting person,” said Dale, “and someone who is a shame to have lost in an era where we need rapid progress on climate mitigation and adaptation.”

More information about Albert and contributions to his funeral expenses can be made at gofundme.com/f/ra8mp-justice-for-adrian.

Email Christian at christian.kallen@sonomanews.com.

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