52-year-old Dr. Kevin Mack was killed while riding a UCSF shuttle van at about 6:20 am this morning when it crashed with a big rig truck at the intersection of Octavia Boulevard and Oak Street, said San Francisco Police Lt. Troy Dangerfield.
Mack was apparently ejected from the van and killed instantly. His body was removed from under the truck at 10:00 am. The driver of the shuttle van and two of the 15 passengers were also injured.
Mack, an associate professor at the UCSF Department of Psychiatry, was headed to San Francisco General Hospital where he was based.
“He had a strong commitment to global health and to medical education in resource-poor settings,’’ said Dr. A. Sue Carlisle, associate dean of SF General Hospital, and CEO Susan A. Currin in a joint statement. “He was an exceptional role model and inspiration for all of the educational community at UCSF.’’ He is survived by his husband and two children.
Police are investigating the cause of the crash, but the truck was traveling northbound on Octavia and was found at the scene veering across the divider into the local traffic lane. The van was traveling east on Oak Street. It’s the second fatal crash involving a UCSF shuttle since a woman was killed in the Tenderloin last November.
According to data from SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose, there were four crashes at the intersection last year and only one in 2009. Those numbers are down from the 14 crashes in 2006 after the Central Freeway ramp opened, bringing high volumes of freeway traffic to the new boulevard.
“Since 2006, we have improved signal timing, provided upgraded signal hardware, provided more striping, better signage and added a red light camera at the intersection,” said Rose. “We continue to see a tremendous amount of traffic there, but the improvements have reversed the spike we saw in 2006.”
Supervisor Ross Mirkarami visited the crash site this morning and told the Huffington Post he gets “complaints about Octavia all the time.”
“I was just elected supervisor when they inaugurated the street after the freeway came down and it was really exciting,” he said. “But now the street is confusing, especially for people who aren’t familiar with San Francisco or are using GPS.”
Mayor Ed Lee, who also visited the intersection this morning, “wants to get some more information from the SFMTA on what the conditions are out there,” said Christine Falvey, a spokesperson for the Mayor’s Office. “This was an accident. I don’t know if somebody ran a red light, so whether the intersection contributed to the accident, we don’t know but we are looking into it,” she said.
Residents at the scene said the intersections along Octavia, which is a uniquely designed thoroughfare for the city, seem to confuse drivers and that illegal maneuvers are common.
Jason Henderson, a geography professor at San Francisco State University who lives near the intersection, said it points to the need for “a comprehensive re-envisioning of the Oak and Fell corridor.”
Oak and Fell Streets, he noted, are both one-way and expand to four lanes each in that area.
“I think the true long-term solution is to reduce the speeds on Oak and Fell, and use innovative traffic signal coordination and take a lane off Oak and Fell so it’s two lanes in each direction,” said Henderson. “It calms the street incredibly.”
Dangerfield said it was unknown whether any citations would be issued.
Updated 3:44 pm.