Woman Critical After Being Hit by 92-year-old Driver in Richmond District

Photo: Sue Vaughan

A woman in her 50s suffered “life threatening injuries” this afternoon when she was struck by an SUV being driven by a 92-year-old man in San Francisco’s Richmond District. Transit advocate Sue Vaughan, who lives in the Richmond, tipped us off to the crash on Park Presidio and Anza Street, and sent us the above photo of the vehicle.

Officer Eric Chiang, a spokesperson for the San Francisco Police Department, said it appeared the victim, who was rushed to a hospital, was in the crosswalk when she was hit around 2:25 p.m. He said the unidentified driver stopped and was cooperating with investigators but he has not been cited.

“We can’t confirm who was at fault,” said Chiang.  There were apparently several witnesses and they were still being interviewed.

We’ll post more details as we get them.

  • Thankfully the driver was not on a fixie…

  • We can’t confirm who was at fault? GMAFB.

    When are we going to realize that the consequences of car addiction are too great? The advantages, which are few and far between, are greatly outweighed by the disadvantages.

  • Be nice to have a system of assigning at least partial fault no matter what for operating the vehicle. It is a responsibility not a right.

  • Katherine Roberts

    Wait — the victim “was in the crosswalk when she was hit,” but they still can’t figure out whose fault it is? What’s there to figure out?

    In news casts, they always refer to this as “the safety of the crosswalk”. But somehow or other the pedestrian is still at fault.

  • icarus12

    Maybe if pedestrians followed one rule of thumb, we would be safe: Crosswalks are not safe zones. When crossing, always make eye contact with the oncoming driver. When it’s dark or rainy, wait until you are sure the driver has seen you, even if that means waiting for him/her to slow or stop. I’m not saying the pedestrian was in any way at fault here. The problem for all of us on two feet (or our four-footed friends) is that being in the right is a poor substitute for being alive and well.

  • raised median creates the highway-induced speeding effect. shrubs and light poles in the median help block view of crossing pedestrians. median adds width to the road, making crossing even more difficult, especially for older folks. the very high rates of speed do not forgive when a crossing car/bike/pedestrian hasn’t yet finished crossing when the light changes.

    in short – this road was designed to kill. it needs to be closed down to all motorized traffic until it can be fixed.

  • I wish we had more information here. The only reason I can think of for the pedestrian to have been at fault was if she’d crossed against a stoplight, but it’s not clear from the article if there was a light or not.

  • The pedestrian can be at fault if she dashes out into the crosswalk unpredictably. Pedestrians are still obligated to “exercise due care” in the vehicle code. However, hard to be witness against the driver if you’re dead or dying.

  • Chav

    Isn’t the driver ‘so age the issue?

  • jd

    In a follow-up to Stuart Chuang Matthews comment, I would argue that our car addiction is so bad that we have such piss-poor driver’s license requirements that so many elderly can drive when clearly they should not be allowed to. I’m not saying that is necessarily the issue in this case, but there is no doubt that there are many elderly driving that should not be. And that’s because we as a society think it’s everyone’s god-given right to drive, regardless of the consequences. As someone who had grandparents who most certainly should not have been driving in their later years (and thankfully did not), there is no doubt that not only do we need stricter driver’s licenses requirements, but once you reach a certain age (I would throw out 80, but I think it’s something that would need to be debated), you need to be re-certified *every* year. That would also need to include a physical from a doctor stating that they are physically/mentally *capable* of driving. I know that is a pain for a lot of elderly, but their convenience cannot trump others’ safety. Further, if we had better public transit and more walkable/livable cities, the elderly wouldn’t even need to be driving very much in the first place.

  • Walter

    Icarus,

    If a pedestrian is required to make “eye contact” with a driver before entering a crosswalk, then effectively a driver could simply look straight ahead, avoid all eye contact, and act as if the pedestrian isn’t there. Or wear sun glasses.

    I was almost flattened at a stop sign a while back whereupon the driver then yelled at me “you are supposed to make eye contact with me”.

    That’s deeply insulting as it implies I have to ask his permission before proceeding, even though I clearly have the right of way.

    While I have no problem with politeness and deference on the roads, the real rules have priority over any such “rules of thumb”. And I shouldn’t have to “make eye contact” to assert my rights.

  • triple0

    ..meanwhile, the SF Examiner runs a front page story on how dangerous fixies are.

    Cars have brakes; cars kill 40+ people annually in SF; bikes have killed none, ever.

  • Mushmouth

    Why does this get a full article when a cyclist putting a pedestrian in critical condition only a blurb in a todays news article?

  • icarus12

    Walter, I was thinking of how I have taught my suburban-raised nieces to get around safely in the City. If it’s good enough for them, I figure it’s good enough for me. Again, for me it’s not a question of having the right to cross the street; it’s just about being alive to enjoy yelling at the occasional brute who ignores traffic laws. 🙂

  • Nick

    To quote Mayor Lee from the previous article:

    “When it comes to pedestrian safety, I can’t move fast enough.”

  • Katherine Roberts

    A peace officer from Park Station once explained to me that “pedestrian right-of-way” in the State of California meant that if you are already in the cross-walk, or have made your intention clear to cross, then the driver legally has to yield to you. It’s only if you dart out in front of them unpredictably that they are not at fault.

    It seems to me that if the ped was struck while already in the cross-walk, then the SUV driver was clearly at fault. But as others have pointed out, it’s hard to make this claim if you’re dead.

  • mike f

    The SFPD has informed me several times that it is their policy not to issue citations in situations where they don’t witness the collision first-hand.

    In other words, even if they find the driver at fault she will receive not receive a ticket and will receive 0 points on her license.

    This is a ridiculous policy and we must demand that it be changed.

    Even from strictly a budgeting perspective, shouldn’t the city be collecting revenue from at-fault drivers in these cases?

  • Sue

    I wish we could find out what happened. I’m searching online but can find no updates.

    As to the culture of the car, it is unfortunate that we associate freedom with cars. If we could mentally separate the concept of ‘freedom’ from cars, we could begin to design and build communities in which no one needed to personally own a car. And then as people grow older, they will not fear losing the ability to drive.

  • Erik G.

    And even if she is indicted, tried and convicted, she’ll be just another George Russell Weller”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Russell_Weller

  • I disagree about the importance of making eye contact with a driver when you have the right of way but aren’t sure if they’ve noticed you. In some cases, you can’t see them due to glare on the windshield or poor lighting, but more generally, they might look right at you and give a little smile, as if to say, “Look at the nice pedestrian,” when actually they’re enjoying the song on the radio and looking right past you!

    Instead, I get by reading the body language of cars…

  • Mario Tanev

    As a pedestrian when I proceed to cross an intersection, I look at the speed of oncoming cars. I step onto the crosswalk to make my intention to cross really clear, but if it doesn’t seem like the car is slowing down (regardless whether there is a stop sign, red light or simply a crosswalk forcing it to stop), I typically wait it out.

    I feel that as a pedestrian this is the right strategy. Many, if not most cars (depending on the intersection) observe my right of way so all I had to do was wait a few seconds. However some don’t, and when that happens I am glad I avoided their reckless trajectory. Cars who slow down very late, while stressing out pedestrians, are on the losing side too. They inflict wear and tear on their brakes, and they are actually slowed down by pedestrians first waiting for them to slow down (out of fear of collision) before they cross.

    One could argue that if every pedestrian stopped and waited for a car to make a decision on whether to stop, it would create a moral hazard. That is, drivers would be inflicting on pedestrians’ right of way all the time. But if that were to happen, we would have to demand more enforcement, rather than risk our lives to prove our right of way.

    If you observe intersections where your right of way is commonly disrespected by drivers, demand more enforcement or structural changes to discourage such practice. For example, red lights and stop signs appear to really motivate to slow down and in some cases even stop. People do value the negative effect of traffic tickets or points on their license more than the life of some abstract human being.

  • Jeffrey W. Baker

    As a pedestrian, I look to see if a car is speeding up to “make” (ie run) the red light, and if so I walk right out in front of them. This amuses me.

  • mike f writes…

    “The SFPD has informed me several times that it is their policy not to issue citations in situations where they don’t witness the collision first-hand.

    In other words, even if they find the driver at fault she will receive not receive a ticket and will receive 0 points on her license.”

    We had an incident in Burlingame with no citation and I contacted Burlingame PD and the Terry Nagel. Here is a response from Burlingame PD. I find it a bit strange that “accident report findings cannot be contested” – this means you could have your license pulled due to the opinion of a police office without any due process.

    “I am sorry for the frustration you are experiencing regarding your
    friend’s injury and the lack of a citation being issued to the other
    driver. Unfortunately, police officers are not permitted to cite
    drivers at the scene of an accident unless they have been to an advanced
    accident investigation course. However, this does not mean the driver
    who causes a collision gets off without a blemished driving record.
    When an officer takes an accident report, he or she is almost always
    able to determine fault. This report is filed with the CHP who in turn
    delivers the accident findings to the DMV. The DMV then assigns a
    “point” to the party at fault’s driver’s license.

    In reality this practice, from an enforcement perspective, is more
    efficient than issuing citations. If a citation is issued, the findings
    of a collision report are not shared with the DMV. The citation becomes
    the method of delivery to a person’s driving record. Should this
    citation be contested in court, for a variety of reasons, the point may
    not be assigned to a person’s driving record. Accident report findings
    cannot be contested. The DMV relies on the officer’s “opinion” of who
    is at fault when assigning points.”

  • Mike F

    @John Murphy

    Thanks for the info! Very interesting. It addresses the moving violation issue and I certainly hope that holds true in SF.

    Even if the driver receives a point on their license though I’m pretty sure they don’t receive a financial penalty if they’re not cited by police. Is that your understanding?

    With the constant chatter about budget shortfalls we should certainly be making an effort to fine at-fault drivers in all collisions. I’d bet SFBC, Walk SF and Livable City have more than a few “shovel-ready” projects to which these funds could be allocated.

  • Bobbie

    I agree with peternatural. I actually avoid eye contact with drivers. I pay attention to what the car is doing instead.
    The problem with making eye contact with a driver is once you make eye contact they assume that you’ll stay out of their way as you ‘know’ they are there.
    Also, I’ve had drivers make eye contact and then quickly look away in order to pretend that they didn’t see me.

    And the lack of responsibility is appalling.
    If I were to build an amusement ride that killed one out of every thousand riders as part of it’s intended operation, I’d be in prison faster than you could say “WTF”.
    But yet give the average person a driver’s license and all of a sudden they’ve been absolved of any modicum of responsibility.

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