San Francisco police are trying to find a hit-and run driver who killed 39-year-old Carlos Martinez Saturday morning in the Mission District. Martinez was the seventh pedestrian to be killed by a motor vehicle this year on San Francisco’s streets and the third hit-and-run fatality.
“In the middle of the morning on a Saturday, somebody was killed in middle of a street in the middle of our city,” said Walk SF Executive Director Elizabeth Stampe, pointing out that pedestrians are more typically killed late at night and by drunk drivers. “That’s unacceptable.”
Pedestrian deaths don’t receive as much attention in the media as they should, she said, but “we should all pay attention when somebody is killed by a car, because that could be any one of us.”
Officer Albie Esparza said the man was walking on the 2200 block of Mission Street near 18th Street at 10:30 a.m. when he lost his balance and fell into the roadway. The driver of a white Chevy minivan struck him in the head but did not stop. Martinez died from his injuries at San Francisco General Hospital.
Police only had a vague description of the suspect but the license plate of the vehicle is 6NJL987.
Records from the San Francisco Police Department list six other crashes where pedestrians were killed by drivers this year, mostly on streets with high-speed, high-volume motor traffic. In chronological order, they occurred on Lincoln Way, Geary Boulevard, 2nd Street, Market Street, Masonic Boulevard, and Lombard Street.
Stampe said that even though police conduct stings and target drunk drivers on events like New Year’s Eve, “it’s not helping people to be aware of the crashes that are occurring every day on the streets.”
“This is why it’s such a surprise to everyone when they find out that 800 people a year get hit by cars,” she said. Last year, 13 people were killed walking on San Francisco streets.
A pedestrian task force began meeting in March to coordinate the city’s efforts to improve pedestrian safety. The SF Municipal Transportation Agency has also been implementing improvements especially in District 6 where the bulk of pedestrian crashes take place.
“We need to see clear action and clear leadership on halting the death toll,” said Stampe.