A Muni bus driver ran over and killed Eileen Barrett, a 72-year-old woman from Daly City, in a crosswalk on Lake Merced Boulevard at John Muir Drive this Saturday.
Police say the crash is still being investigated, but according to the San Mateo County Times, “a preliminary investigation revealed the bus’ middle half struck the senior as she walked in a crosswalk.” The Muni driver was reportedly on an outbound run on the 18-46th Avenue line, indicating that he or she may have been turning left from John Muir on to northbound Lake Merced when he or she hit Barrett. The crash occurred just before 4:30 p.m., and although Barrett was originally expected to survive her injuries, she later died at SF General Hospital.
Barrett is the third pedestrian killed in San Francisco this year. In 2012, 19 pedestrians were killed on San Francisco streets.
“This is a tragedy,” said Elizabeth Stampe, executive director of Walk SF. “So many people walk around Lake Merced, in spite of the surrounding streets feeling more like speedways than walking paths — some even don’t have sidewalks.”
SF Municipal Transportation Agency spokesperson Paul Rose told the SF Examiner that the bus operator will undergo drug and alcohol testing, as part of standard protocol for Muni crashes. There’s no indication as to whether the SF Police Department may seek charges against the driver or issue a citation.
“While this incident is still under investigation, we offer our condolences to the family and friends of Ms. Barrett,” Rose told the Examiner. “Our top priority is the safety of those who utilize San Francisco streets, and we will work with authorities to find the cause of this accident in order to prevent it from happening again.”
The intersection of John Muir and Lake Merced Boulevard, a high-speed motorway, is a perilous place for pedestrians. The crosswalk that traverses Lake Merced Boulevard spans five wide traffic lanes, and other than a small refuge island, there are few measures to protect pedestrians and slow drivers down.
The crash occurred in District 7, whose new Supervisor Norman Yee has pledged to make pedestrian safety a top priority.
“We await more news from SFMTA on how they are dealing with this tragedy and acting to prevent more,” said Stampe, “both by educating drivers and improving street design to protect the many people — especially seniors, like Eileen Barrett — who walk in San Francisco. Walking around a lake shouldn’t be a life-threatening activity.”