Driver of UCSF Shuttle Bus Hits and Kills Pedestrian in Tenderloin Crosswalk

Now official SFPD evidence, this surveillance video shows the front of the bus at the very top of the photo. The arrow points to the woman who was crossing. Photo: Bryan Goebel
Now SFPD evidence, this surveillance video shows the front of the bus just to the right of the liquor store sign at the top of the photo just seconds before it hit and killed a 65-year-old woman. The mouse arrow points to the woman as she was crossing. See the KTVU video ##http://www.ktvu.com/news/25832153/detail.html##here.## Photo: Bryan Goebel

Surveillance video from a Tenderloin market shows that a 65-year-old woman was in the crosswalk on Geary Boulevard and Leavenworth Street Wednesday afternoon and clearly had the right-of-way when the driver of a UCSF shuttle bus loaded with passengers struck and killed her.

Suman Dhakal, who works at Star Market Liquor and Deli on the southeast corner, played the video for Streetsblog before it was turned over to SFPD investigators. KTVU managed to capture video of the surveillance footage.

“It looks like it’s the driver’s fault from my point of view because it was a green light and she was right in front of him. Maybe he was doing something inside and not paying attention but from the video it looks like he should have seen the lady,” said Dhakal.

The woman was walking southbound in the crosswalk on Geary Boulevard around 12:10 pm when she was hit by the driver, who had been traveling north and was making a left turn onto Geary.  The owner of Star Market, Marwan Aburahma, told KTVU that the shuttle driver backed up after the first impact, running over the woman a second time.

“I don’t know if he was scared or he wanted to back up or something but he backed up the bus and hit her again and she died on the spot,” Dhakal said.

An SFPD spokesperson, Sgt. Michael Andraychak, could not say how many passengers were on the bus, but none of them was injured. The driver was questioned, released and not cited. However, Andraychak said an investigation would be completed by the SFPD’s hit-and-run detail and forwarded to the District Attorney’s office. The driver was also expected to be tested for drugs and alcohol.

Photo: KTVU
Photo: KTVU

“UCSF is deeply saddened by this loss of life and we extend condolences to the family and friends of the deceased,” said a statement issued by UCSF. KTVU and the Chronicle reported that the driver had been operating shuttles for UCSF for three years and “had a clean driving record.”

“This is awful news. San Francisco should be a great walking city, and instead it’s a danger zone. The city needs to focus on how it will make streets safer for all of us as pedestrians,” said Elizabeth Stampe, the executive director of Walk SF.

The intersection of Geary and Leavenworth has been a troublesome spot for years. Dhakal said he sees minor crashes and near misses on a daily basis and some longtime residents who spoke to Streetsblog said they are fearful of the intersection.

“Every morning I have to walk that way and you fight when you have the green light. These drivers just come around the corner, they don’t look and they look at you like you shouldn’t even be there. It’s awful. I complained to the Board of Supervisors,” said Sheryl, 63, a resident who lives on Leavenworth near Post Street, both one-way arterials.

“I think it’s very bad because it’s one-way,” said Colleen, who lives nearby and was shopping at Star Market. “People try to sneak around the corner. They only look to the right and I’ve almost been hit a couple of times.”

According to citywide collision data recently obtained by Streetsblog (that offers only basic information), there were a total of 12 crashes in 2009 on or near Leavenworth Street involving automobiles and pedestrians (including one involving a taxi and a pedestrian on Geary at Leavenworth on 10/19/2009). This year, there have now been six. A number of crashes were also reported involving autos and bicyclists.

In 2007, a 49-year-old woman, Xiao Deng, was killed when she was hit by a Muni bus as it was turning right onto Leavenworth from Ellis Street.

Streetsblog intern Aaron Bialick contributed to this report.

  • pseudoryx_nghetinhensis

    The surveillance video is revealing. Seems the driver could be held liable. A left turn from/to a one-way street has virtually no blind spots or traffic to beat, as opposed to turning left from/to a two-way street, which is extremely precarious for anybody in the vehicle’s path. Furthermore, the driver and pedestrian in this case had line-of-sight face-to-face to each other. WTF is so hard about making a safe turn in this situation? Speaking from experience, a left-turn to/from a one-way street is one of the easiest turns to make.

  • We need to lower the speed limits and use more stop signs in downtown San Francisco and enforce those traffic laws.

  • Dave

    That doesn’t even make sense. There are traffic signals at every single intersection in downtown SF, so no need (or ability) to use stop signs… and I don’t think speed is an issue either, 25 mph limit everywhere but it’s pretty rare to see traffic moving even that quickly, given the frequent need to stop/slow.

    But yes, we need more traffic enforcement throughout the city—on driver, bicycles and even pedestrians. We basically have no enforcement now, and the result is the free-for-all that exists today.

    This is a tragic and completely avoidable accident. It’s hard to see how it could have happened other than gross negligence by the driver.

  • Disco Burritos

    @pseudoryx_nghetinhensis

    I live nearby and as a pedestrian I can’t say I’ve ever had an issue crossing at that corner. As a driver, though, that turn can be pretty hectic. I usually wait for the green because it’s difficult to see the traffic coming uphill from Geary, especially since you’re looking up a steep hill from Leavenworth (also, there often isn’t a break in the Geary traffic anyway). But even on a green light, that corner gets busy enough with people coming from both directions that it can be hard to make the turn. Add to that low visibility from the uphill angle and parked cars (and at night, bad lighting), and that coming up Leavenworth, you’ve already driven through some of the seedier blocks of the Tenderloin (ie, the ones where you dodge drunks meandering through the middle of the street), and you’ve actually got a challenging corner for drivers.

    That’s not to say that I routinely hit people making that turn, but there are a lot of things a driver needs to pay attention to there.

  • Neighbor

    Maybe the driver was distracted by a siren. It’s a continual problem in that neighborhood, and the tall buildings bounce the sound around so much that the driver might have thought the siren was behind him. In any case, it’s best to wait until the investigation has been completed. There is probably a circumstance that we’re not yet aware of.

  • Jette

    Very tragic! I feel for everybody involved!!

  • Jamie –

    Actually, too many stop signs aren’t really a good thing compared to other treatments. For one, drivers get impatient with them and tend to run them or roll through carelessly more often, trying to fulfill their minimum obligation to come to a near stop and not necessarily watch out. The stop-and-go method is not only frustrating (and therefore encouraging of careless accelerating), but also an inefficient way to operate a motor vehicle compared to a steady, slow traffic flow that could move them at the same average speed anyway. I think traffic lights, as are currently in place, tend to leave drivers acting more like robots with a false sense of security that they’re fine as long as they follow the lights (or not) while encouraging the same unnecessary stop-and-go movement. So what’s really needed is traffic-calmed, high-pedestrian visible street design. Traffic lights are useful where we want to prioritize transit speed, but safe yielding intersections and crossings are most effective at giving pedestrians priority and keeping drivers aware and navigating with care.

  • bob

    no excuse for this type of wild act of behind the steering wheel, go ahead and press murder charges against this creep inside that bus van.

  • guest

    i can’t even remember the number of times i’ve almost been hit by a UCSF bus driver. 

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