Updated 8 p.m.
As Streetsblog has reported, when a sober automobile driver strikes and kills a pedestrian in San Francisco and stays at the scene, charges are rarely filed. While evidence suggests motorists’ failure to yield is responsible for a plurality of pedestrian injuries in the city, new information furnished by the SF District Attorney’s office shows that few drivers who kill face charges unless they are drunk or flee the scene.
According to the DA’s office, of the 17 pedestrian deaths in 2011, 10 were presented by SFPD to the DA for investigation. Of those 10, the DA filed charges in seven cases.
Here is the list of people charged provided by the DA’s office:
- Jose Jimenez, a drunk driver who fled after killing James Hudson on Masonic Avenue
- Wallace Loggins, a Muni driver who killed Emily Dunn in the Castro
- Updated: Juan Martinez, a driver who fled after killing Eddy Mendez on a traffic island at Potrero and Cesar Chavez
- Randolph Ang, a bicycle rider who killed Dionette Cherney on the Embarcadero
- Gregg Wilcox, a driver who killed William Cox at 14th and Noe Streets while wearing a cast
- Updated: Terry Chan, a driver who killed Helen Tam — more info not immediately available
- Updated: En Lin — currently in federal prison, but “arrest warrant prepared” for killing Aurora Venida at Geary and Arguello
Of the cases we know about, the only drivers who were sober and stayed at the scene are En Lin, who killed Aurora Venida in a crosswalk at Geary Arguello Boulevards; Gregg Wilcox, who was wearing a cast on his leg while driving; and Wallace Loggins, a Muni driver. It’s also worth noting that the DA charged Wallace Richardson, a UCSF shuttle driver who killed Professor Kevin Mack, his passenger, when he crashed into a big rig when running a red light at Octavia Boulevard and Oak Street.
Meanwhile, the 10 deadly drivers who don’t appear on this list — a majority of those who killed pedestrians last year — were apparently not held responsible for the deaths of ten victims on San Francisco streets. Consistent with the SFPD’s track record in non-fatal traffic injury cases, police apparently determined no wrongdoing in the cases of Lourdes Richman, killed by a crane driver in in a crosswalk at Second and Townsend in March, or the unnamed 22-year-old man killed at Lombard and Pierce Streets.
Upon the recent sentencing of Wilcox, the cast-wearing driver, District Attorney George Gascón released a statement saying that “everyone should be able to walk our streets without fear of negligent motorists.”
“I strongly encourage the public to use common sense when driving a car,” he said.
It’s encouraging to hear the DA publicly denounce lethal negligence as a crime. But it’s also apparent that San Francisco has a long way to go toward applying that standard consistently.