Man Killed by Hit-and-Run Driver in the Mission is 7th Ped Death This Year

Mission Street. Photo: ##http://orangephotography.com##Myleen Hollero/Orange Photography##

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.

  • so scary and so sad

  • icarus12

    “Officer Albie Esparza said the man was walking in 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.”

    It is unclear from reports thus far if the hit and run driver was speeding, breaking other traffic laws or otherwise driving recklessly.  His or her crime up to this point is limited to engaging in a hit and run.  Why people do this is beyond me, but it’s quite possible the driver was unlicensed or uninsured, possibly an undocumented worker, possibly an ex-con, possibly just a person with no heart and no morals, or maybe a lawless optimist who hoped the injured person would recover while being unable to sue an anonymous driver.

    In any case, I hope we continue to hear of the circumstances of the accident.  As a driver I would be horrified if I were to hit a person who fell into the roadway, but as long as I stopped and hadn’t been breaking any laws, I doubt I would be liable for their injuries.

  • even if you were breaking a law, you could probably lie.

    Your theories on the hit and run are probably correct. I was actually in a “Hit and the other guy ran” accident – I rear ended a Lexus who stopped short, plowed my front wheel into the lexus and did a lot of damage. I went “oh no” but he drove off. Fine by me.

    Also a 3 car accident, I was in front, the middle car took the damage, the rear car at fault. The middle car’s driver gave fake info, costing the ability to recover damages of several thousand to his BMW. Lucky day for the driver who caused the accident.

  • The 13 pedestrians killed in SF last year is down from 32 in 2000. Fatalities have in fact been in decline since 2000. See page 27 in the 2009 San Francisco Collision Report:
    http://www.sfmta.com/cms/rtraffic/documents/Collision_report_2009.pdf
    See also page 26, which tells us that injury collisions to pedestrians are down radically in the past 10 years. Seems as if, contra Stampe’s statement, that City Hall is already providing “clear action and clear leadership” on the issue.

    If there have been 7 pedestrian fatalities so far this year, we’re pretty much on the same pace as last year.

  • TomF94110

    Icarus, It’s also possible to hit someone and not know it. If this guy suddenly fell from the sidewalk and under a wheel, the driver might think he’d just hit a bump and carried on. It’s not like SF streets aren’t full of potholes anyway. And at 10:30 a.m., it’s unlikely the driver was drunk. Let’s wait for the facts here.

  • Shawn Allen

    I wonder whether the decrease in fatalities is related to the increase in pedestrian and cycling facilities.

    (Nah, it’s probably just that drivers are much more courteous and cautious than they used to be.)

  • See pages 33 and 34 of the report for the city’s analysis of the reasons for the decline in pedestrian injuries and fatalities.
    http://www.sfmta.com/cms/rtraffic/documents/Collision_report_2009.pdf

    The main reasons: focusing on intersections where a lot of accidents happen and redesigning it to make it safer. Most of the report is about specific intersections and what the city is doing to make them safer. And apparently the new traffic signals—including the countdown signals—are effective in making intersections safer.

    The report mentions the Bicycle Plan as a possible aid in making intersections safer: eliminating traffic lanes to make bike lanes means fewer lanes for pedestrians to cross! But the report only deals with numbers through 2009, when the injunction was still in effect, so there’s no correlation between the increased safety for pedestrians and the bicycle “improvements.” Nice try, though.

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