Woman Dies After Being Struck by Crane Truck Driver in SoMa Crosswalk

Photo: Greg Janess

A 72-year-old woman walking in a crosswalk was struck by a driver steering a crane truck on 2nd Street and Townsend this morning, and later died at a hospital in San Francisco’s third pedestrian fatality of 2011.

The Appeal had first word of the 8:48 a.m. crash. San Francisco Fire Department spokesperson Lt. Mindy Talmadge said it happened right outside the department’s headquarters, which meant a very quick response with multiple emergency medical technicians. “Everybody ran out,” she said.

“The vehicle was traveling eastbound on Townsend making a left-hand turn onto northbound 2nd Street. The victim was in the crosswalk when she was struck by the truck,” said SFPD Officer Albie Esparza.

The truck belongs to Sheedy Drayage Company but neither the police or fire department had any information about the driver and phone calls to the company were not immediately returned. Talmadge described the driver as “extremely distraught.”

“No one has been placed in custody. No one is under arrest. At this point, it’s a tragic accident but the matter still continues as far as the investigation goes,” said Esparza, adding that it doesn’t appear alcohol was involved but that the driver would be tested for drugs. Ultimately, she said, it will be up the District Attorney’s Office to decide if any charges will be filed.

Esparza said the woman was pronounced dead at 1:50 p.m. Her identity was not immediately released pending notification of relatives.

Today’s pedestrian fatality is the second in one week, and the third this year, according to the San Francisco Medical Examiner’s Office.

Eighty-seven-year-old Aurora Venida died Wednesday, two days after being hit by the driver of a vehicle while crossing Geary Boulevard at Arguello. On January 27, 75-year-old Norman Daly was struck by a motorcyclist on Lincoln Way and 26th Avenue, and died on February 23.

“This is terrible news. Three seniors have died on San Francisco’s streets in less than three months. This should be a powerful impetus for the City to fast-track pedestrian safety improvements. We need a real commitment to calming traffic on the wide fast streets where we’re seeing the worst collisions,” said Elizabeth Stampe, the executive director of Walk San Francisco.

  • thielges

    “And if one of their [SFMTA] mandates is to “maintain reasonable vehicular speeds and volumes”, then they should say so.”

    If the SFMTA uses Level of Service metrics in their traffic engineering analysis then maintaining automotive traffic volumes and speeds is one of their mandates. Existing LoS metrics favor single driver auto traffic and completely ignores everyone else on the road.

  • thielges, on that note, the reason why LOS needs to go the way of the dodo.

  • pchas

    It’s interesting that the conversation has verged into traffic speed and LOS,when neither were the culprit in the present instance. The intersection was signalized; vehicular speed was not the culprit, as the Sheedy crane was turning, so it was probably going very slowly. With that said, the SOMA streets could do with some narrowing to make it easier for pedestrians. If pedestrians didn’t have to walk so far to cross an intersection, they could make it across the street more quickly. Wider sidewalks, physically separated bike lanes, and changing some one way streets to two-way streets could accomplish much.

  • Matt

    In my experience, the safest way for a pedestrian to cross a street is mid-block, after traffic has passed, as you can see traffic coming from a distance, and they’ve already made their turn through the crosswalk onto that block. Since this method is illegal and enforced by police, pedestrians are forced to use crosswalks. So when a person is hit in a crosswalk when they have the right-of-way (green signal), and they are assigned blame, something is wrong with the system. For young/agile pedestrians, they can run, zig-zag, etc. to get out of the way of a bad driver or a big truck such as the one in this accident, but an elderly person may not be able to change their cadence once they’ve entered the crosswalk and become targets.
    Maybe trucks over a certain size should be required to have a spotter on foot/bike/motorcycle that monitors the intersections as the truck moves through, warning pedestrians of the hazard and temporarily halting those entering the crosswalk. This seems like a much easier solution to the problem in a dense, busy location like SOMA. These over-sized vehicles have separate vehicles in front of and behind them as they drive up the freeways (“wide loads”), to presumably keep small vehicles from getting too close. So why not use this same idea on the city streets?

  • NorCal Cummins

    Still operating the 350 Danny?

  • piggy

    Yep, Sunset Blvd at Yorba has one marked crosswalk with flashing lights. However, none of the drivers are willing to slow down and stop whenever I’m crossing.

  • Casey Miner

    Danny, I’m a reporter at KALW looking for some more information about this incident. Could we talk? Please let me know, casey (dot) miner (at) gmail (dot) com. Thanks!

  • guest

    Mr. Daley was hit by a motorcycle who was driving between cars that were stopped.  The driver drove away from the accident.  Witnesses took the license plate number. The owner of the motorcycle got the motorcycle back and no one is in jail.

  •  What does this say about licensing cyclists…

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