Drunk Driver Accused of Killing Pedestrian on Masonic Ave Appears in Court

Jimenez's trail of destruction ended at St. Mary's Medical Center, where he crashed his white Hyundai into a planter. Photo: ABC7

A 23-year-old San Francisco man accused of killing a pedestrian crossing Masonic Avenue at Turk Street early Friday morning while driving intoxicated made his first court appearance today but did not enter a plea.

Jose Jimenez, a San Francisco County Sheriff’s cadet, held his head down and wept as he was escorted into the courtroom by deputies. His attorney, Chris Morales, asked that the proceeding be continued to May 18th. A judge agreed and set Jimenez’s bail at $1 million.

Jimenez is facing multiple felony counts, including vehicular manslaughter, hit-and-run and DUI in the death of 61-year-old James Hudson, who was struck while he was in the crosswalk on Masonic Avenue.  Police allege Jimenez was traveling almost twice the speed limit and drove away from the scene, damaging four parked cars on Fell and Shrader streets, before crashing into a planter in the parking lot of St. Mary’s Medical Center, where he was arrested.

Jimenez’s family and friends filled two rows of seats in the courtroom. Many of them appeared upset, and were wiping tears.

“The family and my client are distraught about Mr. Hudson’s death. Their prayers are with his family,” Morales told reporters outside the courtroom. “A horrible thing happened.”

A vigil for Hudson organized by the North Panhandle Neighborhood Association is set for tomorrow evening at the San Francisco Day School at 350 Masonic Avenue. His death has focused more attention on the ongoing dangers of Masonic, one of the city’s notorious traffic sewers which has seen at least two injury collisions since Friday’s fatal crash.

Hudson was killed just a few dozen feet away from where 22-year-old Nils Yannick Linke was killed last August by a drunk driver while riding his bicycle.

An engineering hearing on a redesign plan for Masonic Avenue is set for this Friday. The $20 million “Boulevard” design, which has widespread support, would help calm auto traffic and provide more amenities for pedestrians and bicyclists but it could take years to see the changes on the ground.