Arrest Made in Hit-and-Run of Bicyclist and Young Son on Valencia Street

andrew_bennett.jpgAndrew Bennett and his 4-year-old son, Robby.

San Francisco police have confirmed to Streetsblog that a 16-year-old Santa Rosa girl has been arrested in the hit-and-run crash that left a bicyclist and his young son injured on Valencia Street early last month. SFPD Lt. Douglas Groshong said he could not release any more details but believes there is strong evidence to prosecute the case. The girl was booked into juvenile hall this morning on a felony hit-and-run charge.

Andrew Bennett and his 4-year-old son Robby were thrown from their bike July 1st when a vehicle allegedly driven by the girl was traveling westbound on 18th Street and Valencia and ran a red light. Bennett said he heard from some witnesses that the girl was talking on a cell phone.

The 42-year-old suffered a broken back, deep bone bruises on his leg, and his son, whose helmet was cracked in half, received some "pretty nasty abrasions" but wasn’t seriously hurt.

Streetsblog San Francisco’s initial post on the crash quickly became our most-read story and readers from around the world left comments expressing outrage and wishing Bennett a speedy recovery. Other media and bloggers followed with stories, and with some political pressure from City Hall and the SFBC, the SFPD made the case a priority and issued a rare press release asking for help, the first time the SFPD has issued a press release on a crash involving a bicyclist in recent memory. 

We’ll be posting a more detailed story soon.

  • Yesssss!

  • Any update on Andrew and Robby?

  • @mikesonn: I’ll be updating this story soon with reaction and updates on their conditions.

  • Thanks. I missed the “more details soon” part at the end.

  • soylatte

    Good news, but kind of a shame that it’s an underage girl. The fact that she is one, no doubt will be used as a mitigating circumstance. I would have liked to see this case be to set an example, and to prosecute (an adult) to the fullest extent of the law.

  • SfResident

    This is a pleasant surprise. Remind me again why we allow children to operate deadly weapons with scant training?

    Best wishes to Andrew and Robby.

  • TIMTOWTDI

    This is not exactly what I’d call “great” news. But it is somewhat reassuring that automobile drivers can’t _always_ mow down cyclists with total impunity.

    Young drivers make mistakes. Insurance company rates back that up with empirical data. It’s a shame that by virtue of her being behind the wheel of a car, this young person’s alleged mistake could have killed someone. Potentially a child at that. Again the proportionality of harm risked by a cyclist or pedestrian making a mistake is in a totally different realm of that risked by drivers. This a root cause of indignation and conflict when talking about any motor vehicle/car/pedestrian interactions in a public forum. A fixie ridie hipster blowing a stop sign or red light is likely only risking their own life. A motor vehicle driver carelessly or even intentionally passing too close to a cyclist is risking someone else’s life. And anecdotally, it seems a fair number of collisions like this are hit and run.

    Here’s what really bugs me about the story. Where were the other media outlets? Why was this not a huge story in the Chronicle? When a suburban mini-van driver has her vehicle damaged in Critical Mass it’s all over the place. A Father and child mowed down by a red light running automobile barely registers.

    Can’t wait to see how CW, M&R and Garcia manage to ignore (at best I suppose) or twist this story.

  • TIMTOWTDI – yes, the only mention of this incident in the Chron was my letter to the editor asking why they never mentioned this amongst all their Critical Mass screeds.`

  • CBrinkman

    Huge relief. Every time I thought of Andrew and his son I just felt so awful about our City. And I agree that it’s pretty outrageous this story didn’t get coverage in meh-stream media.

  • ZA

    I’m glad to see the start of a resolution. I hope, but do not expect, that this girl turned herself in. I’m also glad to see that SF was able to tap the love and interest of some of our 16.4 million visitors to add pressure to our very local case.

  • Jeffrey W. Baker

    What about the parents? The odds of them not knowing for the last month are roughly zero.

  • Glad this is getting resolved. Sad the driver is so young… I imagine she’s had a very tough last month. Time to grow up quickly.

  • @jeffrey baker – there was a case in Cupertino where a cyclist was physically assaulted by 2 ruffians who got out of the back seat of a car. Since the car was sitting there for a while, the cyclist and other witnesses got the license plate. The driver of the car and the other front seat passenger were juvenile females, who refused to identify their boyfriends, and the parents of the females backed up the girls. It was well known who the boys were – the boyfriends of the driver/passenger. But since the girls refused to testify against them, they could not be charged.

    Seriously.
    http://www.svcn.com/archives/campbellreporter/20041110/ca-cover1.shtml

  • William

    @John Murphy: That is dumbfounding. The Cupertino police haven’t heard of obstruction of justice?

  • Kate

    In the girls’ defense, if their boyfriends had no qualms about getting out of their car to pummel a cyclist it’s likely they’d have no qualms about pummeling the girlfriends who ratted them out.

  • Tim

    Maybe the girlfriends didn’t rat on them because watching their boyfriends beat up other men turns them on.

  • David

    @TIMTOWTDI

    “A fixie ridie hipster blowing a stop sign or red light is likely only risking their own life”

    Not quite: On foot and on MUNI, I’ve seen cars forced to dodge into oncoming lanes or swerve without warning to avoid bikes ignoring traffic signals. It’s entirely possible a rider could cause a car v car collision through their recklessness.

  • Musical Shore

    What was this guy thinking taking his four-year old son riding on Valencia St. That was irresponsible, and he is just as much to blame as this girl.

  • Jeremy

    @Musical Shore

    The cyclist had every legal right to be there. Unless it’s a divided highway with a posted vehicle limitation, bicycles have equal rights to the roadways under federal, state, and local laws. It’s the ignorance and lack of attentiveness from motorists that make exercising those rights dangerous at times, not the presence of the cyclist.

    That said, you don’t know if he was riding ON Valencia or simple crossing at the crosswalk. If it had been a pedestrian pushing a stroller, I doubt you’d be saying that the parent was irresponsible for crossing the street. Not that it matters, because he was a legal user either way.

    The driver ran a red light, hit a legal user of the road, and fled the scene. There’s not much question about the culpability or fault. If the cyclist had run a red light and hit a motorist, then I’d place blame with him . . . but he didn’t.

    Please leave your prejudices against cyclists in the garage the next time you go for a drive. You have a safety advantage by the sheer weight and power of your vehicle. Please operate it with consideration for others.

  • Thomas

    That’s awesome that the city followed his case, however I believe the SF police must do more for bicyclists injured by cars. Last month I was involved in a “hit and run” accident at the fell and broderick intersection. A car made a sharp left turn in front of my bike while I was going down fell during a green light, and I collided into the side of white ford taurus. Luckily for me, the only thing that was damaged for me was my bike. The car drove off as I lied on the ground bewildered, and thankfully a bicyclists behind me chased after the car to get the license plate. When I called 911 to file the incident, they said that since I was not injured, they would not investigate the case. THE DEPARTMENT DOESN’T HAVE ENOUGH MONEY TO FOLLOW SMALL CLAIM HIT AND RUN CASES!

    A hit and run is not a petty crime no matter if the victim is injured or not. does a bicyclist really have to be seriously injured to file a hit and run report!!! My case went unresolved, and that’s bullshit

  • thegreasybear

    Only when we are literally sealed off from humanity and the natural environment behind the oversized, overpriced windshield of a 3-ton SUV do we begin to believe a law-abiding father and son riding to the museum are morally and legally responsible for getting hit and left in the road by a felon.

    Musical Shores’ craven version of “windshield justice” reeks of the dysfunction and pathology inherent in autocentrism, which poisons the mind as it poisons the planet.

  • Settia

    Great news. As a SF bicyclist, most of the drivers I “fear” are not SF motorists, but those who come into the city who don’t understand our laws nor know how to drive in a city. I hope they try her as an adult.

  • blue

    As a cyclist who dodges cell-phone using, stop-sign ignoring drivers, I would really like to see cases like this used as a platform to set precedents for stronger sentencing, even for first-time offenders.

    They are knowingly violating a new law, which was put in place for good reason. Driving through the Mission takes extra awareness in the first place. I see the dangers mounting exponentially when you tack on variables such as inexperienced drivers and illegal (or even legal) cell phone use.

    I just don’t see anyone getting busted for illegal cell phone use.
    It’s very disturbing. You’d think the police could sit at any intersection in the Richmond and pick people off one-by-one. They could balance the CA deficit with all the tickets.

  • E.L.

    This is obvious racism against hispanic people by people of white privilege. That Santa Rosa girl is not guilty until proven innocent. White people ride bicycles because it’s environmental not because they honestly suffer from poverty. Hispanic people have been marginalized and have had land taken again and again by the privileged whites. This is not fair! You are not helping humanity by being judge and jury over a 16 year old hispanic girl who probably didn’t know she hit anybody! How can you call yourselves progressive when Xicano issues are clearly not your forte?

  • @E.L.
    How do you know the girl was hispanic? No one has reported that information anywhere and the cops haven’t told that to anyone, including the media.

  • 40_Acres

    Musical Shores, I’m guessing that you are not familiar with that stretch of Valencia. I live very close by, and it is a major bicycle thoroughfare for all types of riders. Commuters, grocery-haulers, delivery bikes, fixsters, roadies, and yes, adults with small children on ride-alongs or in bike seats. There are 3 bike stores on Valencia between 18th and 22nd, and at least as many a within a few block radius. I consider Valencia to be one of the safer streets for cyclists, since drivers are so habituated to to significant bicycle traffic.

  • meg

    @TIMTOWTDI

    Twice, as a pedestrian, I have been almost hit by hipster men on fixies. And did either of them say sorry?

    I hope the man and his child heal quickly.

  • Europe. Driver’s License. 18 years old.
    Europe. Driver’s License. 18 years old.
    Europe. Driver’s License. 18 years old.

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