USF Student Robert Yegge Killed by Truck Driver at Oak and Franklin

Robert Yegge, a 22-year-old student at University of San Francisco, died last week after a truck driver struck and killed him while he was bicycling at Oak and Franklin Streets.

Robert Allen Yegge had walked in his graduation ceremony about a week before his crash. Photos via ##http://www.facebook.com/RobertAllenYegge##Facebook##

According to the SF Chronicle, Yegge was hospitalized on Tuesday, May 29, at about 2:30 p.m., after police said the driver “stopped at a blinking red light, then made a right onto Franklin. The truck [driver] hit the bicyclist, who was riding on Oak in the opposite direction and had a green light.” According to his brother, Yegge fell down attempting to avoid the truck, and suffered major injuries when his head struck the side of its tire. The driver remained at the scene.

After several days in a coma, Yegge reportedly died from his injuries on Saturday at SF General Hospital. SFPD said the investigation is still open, and there’s no word yet on whether the driver will receive a citation or face charges.

Friends and family are planning a memorial for Yegge this Sunday in Golden Gate Park and have been posting photos and stories on a Facebook page dedicated in his memory.

The intersection of Oak and Franklin Streets — both of which are designed as three-lane, one-way motorways — is a perilous one. Oak is one-way eastbound approaching Franklin from the west, and one-way westbound approaching Franklin from the east. From each direction, including the three eastbound lanes, traffic on Oak funnels onto Franklin. Yegge was reportedly turning onto Franklin from eastbound Oak when the collision occurred.

In 2001, 24-year-old Michelle Lyn O’Connor was killed while biking at the same intersection by a garbage truck driver. The fatal collision occurred just three hours before a San Francisco Bicycle Coalition rally at City Hall to call attention to bicycling fatalities.

Looking east on Oak at Franklin, where the driver turned right. Photo: Google Maps
Oak at Franklin looking west, from the driver's point of view. Photo: Google Maps

Yegge lived in an artists’ collective in the outer Mission and worked at a restaurant in the Marina, said his brother, Nick Yegge. Posts written by friends, family, and colleagues celebrate him as a “cheerful,” “funny” man “full of potential.” A USF professor described him as “unfailingly smart, engaged, thoughtful, curious, and kind.”

Nick Yegge said Robert “loved” riding his bike, which he assembled himself at the Bike Kitchen, and often visited his family in Campbell by taking it aboard Caltrain.

“He was all about having wonderful experiences,” said Nick, who recalled a recent story he’d heard in which Robert had only accepted a ride home from friends (instead of biking) on the condition that they let him take them to his favorite spot in the Marina — the Wave Organ, where tides splashing on differently-sized tubes make unusual sounds. “He was a fun-loving, kind person, very inquisitive, and very smart. A very intellectual kid,” he said.

Yegge needed to complete one more class to receive his biochemistry degree and had walked in his graduation ceremony about a week before his crash.

Rachel Welles, identifying herself as a friend of Yegge, commented on SFist:

…we are devastated. He was one class away from graduating at USF. I try not to waste time being angry at what happened but let this be a wake up call for those drivers that barely stop at an intersection. Your decision and awareness could save a life… Whoever the driver is, I hope you think twice about being careless at the wheel again.

A memorial picnic for Robert Yegge is planned for this Sunday at Marx Meadow in Golden Gate Park. The SFBC will be joining Yegge’s friends and family on a bicycle ride to the picnic from the McKinley statue at the east end of the Panhandle, departing at 11 a.m., in remembrance.

  • meligrosa

    this is so terrible and devastating.
    his youth will continue on within all of us. my heart +prayers, love and sympathy go out to his family, loved ones and everyone that knew him, and like myself did not, but this touches very deep in my soul :(((
    rip robert
    -m.

  • If you google Sutchi Hui, there are pages and pages of hits. Robert Yegge, the only real hit for this specific Robert Yegge is for this story. It will stay that way, despite specific clear indication from the police that the truck driver violated the CVC. The truck driver will probably have no criminal charges or citations, it will silently fall into the civil courts or an insurance settlement, and will never be named and shamed.

    Whatever Bucchere was doing out there, it was certainly no more careless than proceeding through a red flashing light into an oncoming object, and quite clearly no more deadly. Yet his head will be on a spike while this truck driver will suffer no more than some paperwork.

  • 94103er

    This is simply outrageous. We should keep an easily accessible tally of fatal crashes caused by professional drivers and the NTSB should be on this like white on rice. It makes zero sense that we have people with heavy machinery out there causing fatalities without much of a hue and cry. When incidents of that nature happen internally, like in a factory, we usually hear of a probe of some kind, action taken by OSHA, whatever. Someone within the company ultimately takes responsibility. Or at the very least, the union is there to call attention to unsafe conditions and you read about it in the media.

    When the hell is the city going to take action on unsafe truck drivers? Do we really have to just sit back and keep reading while the death toll rises?

  • christobus

    What this truck driver did was failure to yield, which resulted in an unfortunate accident.  There’s no reason to think the guy was specifically driving recklessly, he just didn’t yield.
    He should be cited for failure to yield, held at fault in an injury accident and be liable for the medical expenses of the bicyclist — the same scenario as if he had hit a car.Having a blinking red and solid green oppose one another seems inherently dangerous. From the drivers perspective the intersection could very well be clear when he started to turn through it, not realizing oncoming traffic has a green arrow. That signal needs to be changed.

  • Andy Chow

    The blinking red light is an unusual setup. I think it should either changed to a regular light or place a sign warning that oncoming traffic will not stop.

    Blinking red light is rare, but can be found at some intersections, especially during overnight hours. Some intersection has a 4 way blinking lights, which is the same as a 4 way stop sign. Others have blinking yellow lights on one street and blinking red on another. That is the same as a two way stop sign. At this intersection, it is hard to tell which street has what signal when it is light in traffic.

  • What are the medical expenses of death?

  • Gneiss

    So long as we take the attitude that crashes which result in death are simply ‘accidents’ rather than criminal negligence, people will continue to drive without taking due care when driving on our streets.  It’s harden attitudes like yours which make ‘unintentional’ death on our streets somehow an acceptable part of living in America.

    Remember, negligence doesn’t require intent.  It simply means that a person took less care that a reasonable person would have while operating their motor vehicle.  IMHO, causing death while driving should not be a ‘reasonable’ outcome for any driver.

    Also, to suggest that hitting a cyclist is somehow the same as hitting a car ignores the very real differences between the types of transportation modes which all have rights to use our roadways safely. 

  • James_51

    Has anyone noticed that this article cannot be accurate? If you are heading eastbound on Oak, it is only possible to make a LEFT on Franklin, not a right. I am an avid cyclist and go through this intersection often, and I am failing to understand exactly how this happened.

  • James_51

    Ok, correction. I missread the article. This is extremely sad news. I can now see how this happened – driver was westbound, and probably assumed he was fine to make a moving “stop” onto a one way street, failing to see Robert. My heart goes out to Robert and everyone who knew him. Please try to ride and drive carefully and make the streets safer for all. I love SF. Rest in Peace Robert.

  • James_51

    Who is Bucchere?

  • Our streets are inhumane. Who is responsible for this death as well as every other death and injury of pedestrians and cyclists on our streets? Is it the responsibility of engineers to ensure our streets are humane? Should people who chose not to contribute to polluting and destroying the earth fear for their lives as they travel? It is time to seriously rethink our streets and totally overhaul them to provide safe, convenient and comfortable roads for everyone.

  • Andy Chow

    Criminal negligence is harder to prove. Unless you got witnesses or some conditions that prove by definition negligent (DUI, etc), then the driver can say that “such and such came from nowhere.” That person could actually be telling the truth. The standard for proving someone guilty criminally is higher than proving someone liable on a civil case. As much as I find these deaths unfortunate, I think it is important to separate emotions from the legal process, and from the design process that would reduce the possibility for these incidents, which I think it is more important.

  • ubringliten

    I think we need to have a protest to make the streets in SF safer like how the Danes did in the 70s.  I am scared for my life every time I walk home, only two blocks away and I have convinced myself to ride so to increase awareness and safety for other riders.

    Rest in peace, Robert.

  • Gneiss

    Andy – suggesting that emotion played a role in my response seems like a way to belittle my valid criticism of the current state of how our society defines negligent driving.  If someone fails to yeild or violates a traffic law (speeding, failure to yeild, etc.), isn’t that by default negligence?  Why must you be DUI or witnessed driving recklessly?  If this was an industrial accident, plane crash, or gun death rather than an traffic crash, you can bet that viloation of some other safety law would count as negligence.

  • mikesonn

    @002ec2dcc5273303fbfd34e45385ab64:disqus : @014d815e337305dccb0b861fe6cdb3e3:disqus owns a shuttle service so he quickly comes to the “defense” of operators of large vehicles. Hopefully his drivers don’t have the same liberal stance on the laws as he does.

  • shmoozilla

     why do  replies to this post keep disappearing?

  • Because comments like “He’s Murph’s bff” don’t exactly meet our comment standards: 
    http://sf.streetsblog.org/about/comment-moderation-policy/

  • shmoozilla

     Or the commenter who wouldn’t mind seeing Bucchere’s head on a spike? But it’s okay for Murphstahoe people names? I see how your comment standards work….

  • shmoozilla

     Murphstahoe to call people names, that is….you seem to apply your standards in a self-serving manner.

  • mikesonn

    @b061ae0867336435bc888589c1dc4e26:disqus You are not adding anything. Negative undertones with all your posts.

  • Andy Chow

    Gneiss: First, most likely you’re not going to find anyone who hasn’t violated any traffic laws. Everyone who drives over the posted speed limit technically is violating, so is every bicyclist that failed to full stop at stop signs, or pedestrians that jay walked. Every now and then police does a “crack down” on pedestrians and cyclists and obviously the cycling community is against that.

    As for proving negligent driving, you need to have evidence that meets the criminal standard (beyond a reasonable doubt). If there’s no self admission, no video, 3rd party witness, or DUI, the driver can cast a reasonable doubt by saying “it came from nowhere,” and that driver wouldn’t have to lie. You still need to present evidence of speeding (which again you need a witness if the car is running really fast, or a police with a speed checking device) or failure to yield (the truck driver might have stopped at the blinking red before proceeding).

    Our legal system does require a higher standard on criminal charges, and I do and will not support lowering that standard (especially when there are people wrongly prisoned based on false witnesses). However, with driving there’s civil and administrative standards that are lower. For example, if you’re arrested for DUI, your license can be administratively suspended by DMV without a criminal trial. An at fault accident will result in a point in the driving record, same as a moving violation.

    For industrial accident and plane crash, the primary focus is on preventing the same kind of incident from happening again. I believe that it should be the focus. Video cameras are available for cyclists and drivers (and companies that employ drivers) to monitor activity and collect evidence.

    mikesonn: I don’t attack people personally. You don’t know what I do and I don’t expect you to know what I do, so please don’t comment on me personally for what you don’t know.

  • shmoozilla

     And I hate cyclists, mikesonn.  Don’t forget that part.

  • Gneiss

    I’m not advocating that we should make every traffic infraction negligent, just those that result in death or serious injury.

    Like you said for industrial incidents – “The primary focus is on preventing the same kind of incident from happing again.”  Why can’t we establish that standard for traffic crashes that result in death?  I simply don’t see how death from a traffic crash is any different than other kinds of behavior that we routinely sanction more seriously.

    And for the record – cyclist (and pedestrians) do get held to a criminally negligent standard, or the DA wouldn’t have considered charging the cyclists who killed a pedestrian last year, and Raquel Nelson wouldn’t have been charged and convicted of vehicular manslaughter for the death of her child while she was trying to cross a street.

  • Sprague

    Another tragedy and another young life lost.  Next time it could be you or me.  Eleven years ago at the same intersection another young life was lost.  And San Francisco is one of the most bike friendly cities?!  This is a sad testament to our culture and our country.

  • Anonymous

    @014d815e337305dccb0b861fe6cdb3e3:disqus wrote: “First, most likely you’re not going to find anyone who hasn’t violated
    any traffic laws. Everyone who drives over the posted speed limit
    technically is violating, so is every bicyclist that failed to full stop
    at stop signs, or pedestrians that jay walked.”

    Ah, yes: this is the crux of the issue. You are framing it as if the breaking of the law in each of the cases you mentioned is the same, but they are very different because the ramifications of each is very different. The ramifications of a pedestrian jaywalking versus a cyclists rolling through a stop sign versus a car speeding are vastly different, the last causing orders of magnitude of more destruction than the previous ones (when something goes wrong). You must consider the consequences of crimes/actions and not just paint it as black and white, i.e., acting like breaking any law, regardless of the consequences, is the same as breaking any other law.

    So, when you operate a massive vehicle with hundreds of horsepower, the consequences of your mistakes are much greater. Therefore, you must be held to a higher standard. And when you mess up, then you have to pay a greater price. Unfortunately, this is not how we treat driving and, as the SFPD’s actions of not even giving tickets (let alone prosecuting the driver) in these cases (and your comments) show, our society acts like running over a cyclist in a truck because you weren’t paying attention is somehow the same as a pedestrian jaywalking. That is a ridiculous bias that must end if we are going to make our streets livable and for people instead of being playgrounds for cars.

    You are right that it must be shown that indeed the driver was negligent and that the cyclist didn’t just “come from nowhere”, as obviously if the cyclist just jumped out in front of the truck at the last minute, it’s not the truck driver’s fault. However, what usually happens, as this website constantly reports, is that the cops *immediately* — at the scene of the incident without any investigation — will make public statements that it was “just an accident” since the driver didn’t flee or wasn’t drunk. Or, even after evidence shows it was the driver’s fault, *still* not issue a ticket or prosecute. This is absurd. Their public statement should always be, “Fault has not been determined and the incident is being investigated”. In this case, they have actually done the correct thing and are investigating it. We’ll see what comes of it, but if it is shown via witness testimony and evidence that the cyclist had the right of way and didn’t “come out of nowhere”, then no matter how you look at it, the driver was negligent (even if unintentionally) and must pay the price.

  • Anonymous

    And bicyclists are always right no matter what they do, and motorists are always wrong, don’t forget that shmooozillla.

  • Andy Chow

    The point is that we become less sensitive and careful the more we “violate” the law. The first time we jay walk we may look twice or thrice before we proceed, but more we do it the more we pay less attention. The crash happens when our assumption was proven wrong.

    Even though bikes running the stop sign or red light, or pedestrians jaywalking don’t cause the same damage as a car or truck, they can cause other road users to react, and they can still kill or be killed.

    I am all for changing the law to take account of reasonable risks, but I think that cyclists and jaywalkers taking such risks should also understand that drivers shouldn’t be expected of complete adherence to the law.

  • @b061ae0867336435bc888589c1dc4e26:disqus  I’m not sure where Murphstahoe has called people names, but if anyone does, this part of our policy would potentially taken into account: “Commenters who use a real name or established identity and have participated for some time in the online community will generally be given much more leeway.”

    However, calling for someone’s head on a spike, and calling them a “toe-rag,” is also unacceptable here, no matter who says it or who it’s directed towards. (I’ve removed similar hostile comments, and generalizations, toward drivers, if that makes anyone feel any better.)

    But you don’t seem to apply your commenting standards in a way that reflects well upon yourself, particularly as a member of your staff.

  • mikesonn

    @014d815e337305dccb0b861fe6cdb3e3:disqus You are aware of the history of “jaywalking”, correct?

    Downtown SF should be a total pedestrian zone and cars are just kind of allowed.

  • Anonymous

    @pchazzz – the results have generally tipped the polar opposite of your statement.

    Regardless of Andy’s position – it is 100% clear that the driver in this case violated the traffic law – he had a blinking red against a green. He will probably get nicked in Civil Court but he’s proven himself to be a less than competent driver but will suffer no repurcussions to his driving privilege because of it. I don’t think he needs to go to jail – what a waste of resources – but his license should be suspended.

    I’m of the opinion that Bucchere has not been charged because the DA is having trouble coming up with a case. I believe that he was not riding his bike with the caution it deserves but defensive driving is part of driver’s Ed, not the CVC. I also think that should be changed and that would give more leeway for charges to be brought here. Such a change would be opposed by car companies, insurance companies, and AAA, and welcomed by the SFBC.

    That’s a very clinical analysis, which is appropriate.

  • Shmoozilla

    My BFF comment was an allusion to the members of your community who think it’s objectionable for cyclists who behave badly to be held to account because some drivers behave badly too. I guess sarcasm can only be employed by members of your community. Posters on this sight have advocated vandalizing cars with their u-locks. Are you worried about their commenting standards?

  • mikesonn

    @b061ae0867336435bc888589c1dc4e26:disqus See @murphstahoe:disqus ‘s comment below yours.

  • Andy Chow

    I don’t think even the pedestrians in downtown SF wants it to be a total pedestrian zone. People need to have access to vehicles (auto, transit, bike) to get around, products need to be delivered, and garbage needs to be hauled away.

    Traffic on the street in a way is no different than other utilities that are placed under the street. A 100 years ago only pedestrians, horses and buggies on the street, but now horses were replaced by motor vehicles. Under the streets, there were no utilities, but now there’s electricity, gas, water, sewage, telephone, cable TV, broadband, etc.

    The issue is how to manage transportation and maximize throughput (consider all modes) in a safe manner. It is a balancing act across different modes, but recognizing that different modes are necessary.

  • “Posters on this sight have advocated vandalizing cars with their u-locks. Are you worried about their commenting standards?”

    Yes.

  • mikesonn

    When there were just horses and street cars on the streets, pedestrians roamed the streets with little care. Research the source of “jaywalking”, it was the auto industry forcing pedestrians onto the sidewalks and out of the way.

    That is what I meant by pedestrian zone.

  • YVG

    The article is misquoting.  Robert was 25, not 22.

  • Are you sure? I’ve heard multiple people say he was born in 1989 and was about to turn 23.

  • BV86

    To the person who complained that the truck driver will only suffer some paperwork… Did the truck driver come to the memorial? Would he be open to hearing how much we love and miss Robert? I think that would be far more effective for our healing and for the driver’s than any punitive measures.

  • Robert was born July 1, 1989. His family lived across the street from me and my oldest son Michael met his brother Nick on Halloween of 1988. This is a devastating loss for me and my 2 sons. They all grew up together like brothers and it’s like losing one of my own. Robert’s memorial service on Sunday was beautiful.  He will be missed..

  • darch

    My sympathies to the family. 
    Everyone should be very careful to judge this situation, without knowing the facts.  I was driving in front and behind this cyclist for 3 blocks on Oak St before his collision.  He was a noticeably reckless rider.  He was weaving back and forth across the 3 lanes of moving cars, cutting off cars, not signalling, running red lights and not wearing a helmet.  He cut me off, I caught the Gough light, he ran it and raced to catch the light at Franklin where he got hit.  I hope this is not biking behavior anyone wants to promote. 

    I bike to work in SOMA.  While Oak St is a direct route, I would never take it.  There are plenty of parallel labeled bike routes that are much safer.  I know in my heart that this accident could have been prevented by better rider judgement. 

    We’re never getting rid of cars, and the bleeding heart and preachy approaches only serve to polarize and stall progress.  Educating is more productive.  Keep the street improvements coming.  But driver and rider education and enforcement needs to be seriously increased.  Bikes are vehicles too.  It’s obvious they can’t cause as much damage as cars, but serious risk is there.  California needs mandatory driver’s education like most civilized states.  Did they remove turning signals from the manual?  Cops need to patrol for moving violations.  Cyclists need to learn the State and City Laws.  We need to stop citing past statistics and acknowledge that going forward, more cyclists will yield more incidents….even with cyclists at fault.  Don’t wait to respond to death statistics.  Get ahead of it.

    and PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE don’t ride on the sidewalks.

    be safe.

  • Anonymous

    Pulling his license would be more effective at deterring him from creating another situation where someone needs to heal.

  • Mom on a bike

    What an absolute load of crap. So let me get this straight: You are a witness to the crash (did you give a statement to the police?) and are still blaming the victim despite the facts that are evident? This guy wasn’t killed owing to recklessness. This guy died because a truck driver failed to yield. Period. 

    What do you have to gain by parroting the same stupid non-arguments pinning blame on cyclists? Do you have even the vaguest concept of how much better, how much more civil our streets could be FOR DRIVERS if the roads were made safe for cyclists? And who the hell is being ‘bleeding heart’ or ‘preachy’ here?

    Let’s say this crash victim was driving a car. Would you even have noticed what he was doing prior to being hit by a truck? No, you wouldn’t have. You only notice what cyclists do because cyclists register as an ‘intruder’ in your mind. And you claim to be a cyclist, yourself…yikes. 

    It’s clear that you’re not even reading the facts of this particular case, for that matter, if you’re spouting off about ‘driver education.’ You clearly missed the part about this kid being killed by a *professional* driver.

    And finally, this need for people to comment irrelevantly about bikes on sidewalks…there really is some sort of pathology here that should be explored in another venue. It seems little different from the knee-jerk prejudice displayed all over the internet in news-site comments. Anything outside the ‘norm’ is worthy of an indignant and jerky comment, for some reason.

  • Bikesafely

    “I was driving in front and behind this cyclist for 3 blocks on Oak St”

    AND

     “While Oak St is a direct route, I would never take it.”

    Hmmm, something is not right about this comment. Darch, can you clarify?

  • Concerned

    There were multiple witnesses. You claim to be one of them, yet did you even stop and speal to the police or assist?

    The cyclist was traveling through the intersection legally on the green light. That has been established. The driver that struck and killed this cyclist had a RED blinking light and failed to yield to traffic in the intersection.

    IF you were a witness, then you would know this along with the other witnesses present at the scene. Or are you so dispassionate that you can witness a fellow human being plowed over by a truck-ONLY because the truck driver failed to look all ways for safe passage on his RED light prior to proceeding through an intersection- and then just drive past while someone lays bleeding and unconscious in the street?

  • darch

    I normally don’t bother with blog comments for this reason.  I only googled because I cared to see what happened to him. 
    My intent was to bring perspective to the conversation.  As a witness to activity leading up to the accident and after it, I think it’s inappropriate to spread false info.  It compromises your credibility and hurts the bike cause.  Speculation by non-witnesses is not fact.  Commenters have run wild with assumptions without the facts, in order to suit a position and let emotions cloud impartial analysis.  And so much unfounded name-calling is immature and not productive. 
     
    I have not pointed blame or targeted anyone.  I have simply pointed out the facts I saw.  The rider was breaking laws for the 4 blocks before the crash.  I did not see the crash, since I clearly said I was caught at a light a block back.  The scene was covered with help, as it’s in front of the paramedics station.  The “truck” was an average pickup truck with an average Joe…..not a “professional driver” in a commercial truck.  Let investigators and a jury decide blame. 
     
    I am very aware of and appalled by constant reckless car driving.  We definitely need safer streets for bikes.  I don’t see how anyone could interpret, that I argue for cars in favor of bike safety.  I am a pedestrian, cyclist and occasional driver looking for safety for all.   I know and follow all the state and city bike laws.  I do the same as a driver.  Logic dictates that incidents would go down if cars and bikes both followed the rules.  It’s reality and social responsibility.
     
    Safe travel to all and goodbye.

  • ct1849

    Doesn’t make sense.  How can there both be a blinking red light and green light at the same intersection?  Whenever I see a blinking red, it’s usually for all directions, or with blinking yellow one direction and blinking red another, but never blinking red and green.

  • mikesonn

    darch, if you saw something, contact the police, don’t post a comment on a blog. Have we learned nothing?

  • tigerbeatrix

    Folks: Robert Yegge, on his shimmering lime-green bike, took it to the pavement with the joyfullest kind of bicycling any of us could hope to represent in Our City. He was conscientious, present, and cool-headed in ALL things. If he busted a few moves on his way down Oak Street that day, I’m sure they were all well thought out and executed in a way in which any competent defensive driver would be proud.

    The stark reality is that at the intersection where he was effectively killed, he had the green light, followed traffic laws, and still (helmet and all) ended up on life support and an organ donor a few days later. His memorial was a strong testament to the necessity of better awareness of bicycles on our streets. That was the secondary bit. Primarily, it is ALL ROBERT. I’ll miss you always, friend and inspiration. So will so very many others.

  •  Well said…

  •  He was wearing a helmet…

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