Drunk Driver Kills Hanren Chang, 17, on Sloat Boulevard

Updated 11:16 p.m.

An allegedly drunk driver was arrested for hitting and killing 17-year-old Hanren Chang on Sloat Boulevard near Vale Avenue on Saturday night. According to CBS 5, 29-year-old Keiran Brewer was driving westbound on Sloat at about 11:20 p.m. when he hit Chang, who was crossing the street in the northbound direction, and dragged her “a short distance.” Update: According to ABC 7, Chang was a student at Lowell High School and had just got off a Muni bus on her way home after celebrating her birthday.

Hanren Chang. Photo: ##http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/local/san_francisco&id=9015309##ABC 7##

Walk SF Executive Director Elizabeth Stampe said the organization “is saddened to learn of San Francisco’s fourth pedestrian death this past weekend. Hanren Chang was a young girl who lost her life in an awful way, killed and apparently dragged by a car on Sloat Boulevard, one of San Francisco’s most dangerous streets.”

“It’s time for Mayor [Ed] Lee to mobilize city agencies to make our streets safer for everyone, and prevent more needless tragedies,” she added.

Keiran Brewer. Photo via ##http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2013/03/04/dui-suspected-in-death-of-teen-pedestiran-near-sfs-stern-grove/##CBS 5##

Despite some recent safety improvements, Sloat, a state highway run by Caltrans, remains a deadly speedway dividing the Parkside neighborhood. In January 2012, Caltrans put Sloat on a road diet (converting two of six traffic lanes to buffered bike lanes), upgraded some crosswalks with more visible markings, and lowered the speed limit from 40 mph to 35 mph. However, without further physical traffic calming measures, the lives of residents crossing the street are still at serious risk.

Two pedestrians were injured on Sloat in 2011, and as Streetsblog reported in January 2010, 54-year-old Feng Lian Zhu was killed by a driver on Sloat near Forest View Drive.

“We were encouraged by the recent improvements Caltrans made on Sloat,” said Stampe. “Clearly much more needs to be done, and the city and the state need to work together quickly to add lights and further traffic-calming to fix this deadly road.”

Sloat runs along the border between District 4 and District 7, whose new supervisor, Norman Yee, expects to hold a hearing later this month to review dangerous spots for pedestrians and the status of safety projects. Eileen Barrett was killed by a driver two weeks ago on Lake Merced Boulevard, another high-speed road in Yee’s district.

As of last week, District 4 is represented by newly-appointed Supervisor Katy Tang, who replaced Carmen Chu. On the Board of Supervisors, Chu pushed Caltrans to initiate last year’s safety improvements. Although Tang didn’t initially mention pedestrian safety when asked about her transportation priorities, she followed up with Streetsblog saying she’d like to discuss the issue further. If you have a pedestrian safety question you’d like us to bring to Tang’s attention, let us know in the comments.

Update: Tang told ABC 7 that pedestrian improvements are slated for the intersections of Sloat and Everglade Drive, Forest View Drive, and 23rd Avenue.

  • Sfsererh

    Drunk driver hits someone, lets make the road safer but adding stop signs and stop lights on every block and the speed limit 10mph, or maybe it’s just a case of a drunk driver not stopping.

  • The biggest violation is that person shouldn’t be driving altogether. You can put a stop sign on every intersection but these people (along with those who try to run away from police) will disregard all those “calming” measures.

  • davistrain

    One wonders how many other violations the suspect in this case has racked up since he received his driver’s license.  Or does he even have one?

  • I am so saddened by this. It seems I just wrote this piece on drunk driving in San Francisco, but I guess it was a whole two months ago after the Chinese tourist was killed up on Twin Peaks.

    http://karenlynnallen.blogspot.com/2013/01/drunk-driving-in-san-francisco.html

    There are many factors involved here. First, even though 40% of all traffic fatalities in San Francisco involve alcohol, we make it pretty low risk to drink and drive here. San Francisco has the lowest DUI arrest rate of any county in the state and the fifth lowest DUI conviction rate. And people who do end up convicted of a DUI have a mean blood alcohol content (BAC) of .169, more than double the legal limit. People with lower BACs in San Francisco tend to get off entirely or with a lesser charge. We just don’t take drunk driving very seriously in this city.

    In addition, Sloat may have been calmed, but it is still far too easy, drunk or sober, to drive 50 mph on it. Speed kills. The harder it is to go fast, the less likely a crash of any kind results in a death. Personally, I am a big fan of speed humps.

    I want to point out that our nod and wink approach to drunk driving created two tragedies here: a young woman is dead, and a young man will likely do prison time. Countries that have less tolerance of drinking and driving, both in BAC level and through enforcement stings, don’t have nearly our alcohol traffic fatality rate. The result is these countries send fewer young people either to graveyards or prisons.

  • Gill

    Kudos to Sup. Tang for following up. Of course the key question is what she says — here’s hoping growing up in the neighborhood brings wisdom on the issue.

  • Anonymous

    There are “calming” measures that are not so easily disregarded.

    Try disregarding a traffic circle, for instance.

  • That road is unsafe at 1 PM on a Saturday with no drunks.

    The most disgusting aspect to me is that the City runs L Taraval trains that say “SF-ZOO” on them. We would take a nice relaxing trip on the L and get dropped off at 46th and Wawona, 2 blocks from the zoo. Perfect. Except that to get to the zoo, you need to cross 7 lanes of Sloat at a marked but unsignalized crosswalk. So there I am – I can see the zoo and my 2 year old is super excited that we are going to the zoo, and I am considering turning around and getting back on the L because I don’t want to kill him trying to go see the Lions. 

    You have to sort of step one foot into the intersection and stare down the oncoming cars and try to decide if they are going to stop. And then the one in the lane closest to the curb stops, and you finally confirm that he is stopping, so you start to move, but the car in the further lane decides to gun it through. 

    At least at a four way stop you can make eye contact with the driver – in this situation you have a car 200 yards away from you going at warp speed and you have no idea what he’s doing – driving, texting, whatever.

    If we advertise the L going to the zoo, the nearest intersection should have a stoplight.

  • How about a spear in the steering wheel aimed at the driver’s heart…

  • Guest

    The driver was intoxicated.  He would most likely have hit the pedestrian regardless of newer, “better”, safety “advancements”.  I wonder if this is his first DUI?  I’d love to find that out.

  •  Then they might as well crash into the circle, or more likely, would try to steer away all of a sudden and crash into something else. Why do we have laws against any driving for people under the influence but only regulate against specific behaviors for those who don’t?

  • Guest

    Just would like to make a correction.. her name is Hanren.

  • Guest

    Yes, the girl’s name is Hanren Chang.* My condolences to her family and friends. Implementing road safety improvements is good, but will it really make a difference? The idiot that hit Hanren was intoxicated and clearly he was too ignorant and dense to realize that he was putting himself, but more importantly other people at risk. In this case, he killed a wonderful girl that has definitely made a great impact in her community, touching the lives of people around her. There will always be people who don’t think before they do and hopefully there will be changes in the future, but right now we can all do our part and pray for Hanren and her family and friends, and hope that they will get through this with lots of support. Our district has not payed much attention to this issue of traffic safety, especially on Sloat boulevard because I know of other people in the community who have lost others on this dangerous road and yet there have not been any news of how they will try their best to prevent future incidents. DUIs are definitely another factor because we can’t control the irrational decisions that some people make, but our district needs to really crack down on this problem. Personally, I don’t have a clue on how to further prevent these tragedies, but our district needs to provide assurances to our community that they will try their best to do whatever they can, even if it means their admittance to not dealing with this issue prior to these tragedies. 

  • OK Andy, how do you propose we put a stop to drunk driving, such that we don’t have to calm the streets for non-drunk drivers?

  • Anonymous

    Zero tolerance for drunk driving is hugely productive way to calm streets. If you are caught driving drunk, 5-year suspension of your driver’s license as well as a steep fine. Get caught driving drunk and hitting somebody causing permanent injury or death, permanent license suspension (in addition to whatever criminal charges).

  • Penalties can only apply after the fact when caught. I think the best is to prevent them violating the first time. I think the first time penalty is harsh enough that most aren’t likely to do it the second time.

    I can think of couple of strategies like making breathalyser tests available at bars, and offering free transit on Friday and Saturday nights.

  • mikesonn

    A good start would be removing parking (like Polk Street) instead of parking minimum requirements for bars (very common in the Midwest, which also has very high DUI rates…hmmm).

  • There are some areas with bars that prohibit overnight parking on Friday and Saturday nights, which I think is counter-productive since it encourages people to drive home (even they might not be ready) to avoid parking penalties or having their vehicles towed.

    It may be ideal if they don’t drive to the bar, but I don’t think it would be as effective (because they could park somewhere else, or go somewhere else with better parking) as effort to provide alternatives to driving home drunk.

  • Calmouse

    It is surprising to me why there isn’t a traffic light installed either at Vale or the next street because these streets are where the kids get off the bus to go to Lowell High.  It is very sad that several people have to die before anything is done to really improve safety.  Hope that all the talk by the Supervisors afout improving safety goes beyond just talk.

  • Guest

    All the articles on news web sites say that he was “Allegedly” drunk. This blog posting is terrible in claiming that he was definitely drunk during the accident.

  • LowellStudents

    Hi everyone, 

    If you could please sign this petition, requesting the city to either install a stop sign or traffic light, would really mean a lot.

    And please, share it and pass it on!

    Thank you!!!

    https://www.change.org/petitions/city-of-sf-norman-yee-of-district-7-sf-municipal-transportation-agency-stop-sign-or-traffic-light-installed-on-vale-ave-and-sloat-blvd-2

  • Rebbeca900

    Her name is spelled HANREN*

  • Gus Hamilton

    I am an ’06 Lowell grad who took the 23 bus to school and crossed Sloat at Vale – drivers many times seemed to try to speed up when they saw pedestrians wanting to cross here to sort of beat us to the crosswalk.  One reason that makes this stretch so dangerous is that there are no traffic signals for quite a long distance.  I think a traffic light would drastically improve safety at this intersection so I signed this petition and I urge you to do the same. My condolences go out to Hanren’s family, friends, and teachers.

    https://www.change.org/petitions/city-of-sf-norman-yee-of-district-7-sf-municipal-transportation-agency-stop-sign-or-traffic-light-installed-on-vale-ave-and-sloat-blvd-2

  • Ashlouie411

    Her name is Hanren Chang, not Henren Chang. Please correct this. Thank you

  • I thought I’d corrected all the misspellings the same day the story was published, but I see now that one was left Elizabeth’s quote, and it’s fixed now. Apologies for the error.

  • Henry

    I signed the petition. But the petition also needs to be addressed to Caltrans, who have jurisdiction over Sloat between 19th and 39th (because it is State Route 35). 

    Recently, Caltrans approved a manual that requires lane widths to be at 11 feet, which does not encourage traffic calming at all and may mean that they may not be making any improvements to that stretch anytime soon, unless exemptions are filed with the State. 

    Another way to improve Sloat for the benefit of pedestrians and bicyclists would be to redesign Sloat so it has a continuous cycletrack on either edge of Sloat, crosswalks at every intersection, and one lane of traffic in each direction with left turn pockets. Any remaining part of the street not utilized can be converted into open space.

  • mahat papartassee

    It’s 11pm, and if you have driven on Sloat, you know it’s nearly impossible to see a pedestrian approaching the crosswalk. You don’t need to be sober to accidentally run over someone at 35mph. Pedestrians must also be fully alert when crossing that street, without anticipation that a car will stop just because there’s a crosswalk. I almost run over a guy once. It was on Sloat, and it’s late into the night. The guy was wearing all dark color clothes, and walking leisurely across the, then, three-lane Sloat. I don’t drive a fancy car, and my car’s headlights cannot shine as far as half a block…. definitely not far enough to spot this man strolling out as if he’s walking in his own backyard.

    My sympathy goes out to Hanren’s family. And I hope DUI will come to an end. But it’s also our responsibilities as pedestrians to be more careful and alert when crossing a street.

  • mikesonn

    “It’s 11pm, and if you have driven on Sloat, you know it’s nearly impossible to see a pedestrian approaching the crosswalk.”

    That’s the problem.

    “I don’t drive a fancy car, and my car’s headlights cannot shine as far as half a block…. ”

    You should stop driving at night, ASAP.

  • “Wearing all dark color clothes, and walking leisurely across” a crosswalk is completely within a person’s right. Driving too fast to see and safely yield to pedestrians is completely not. They even put up signs at crosswalks on Sloat to spell this out.

  • Gneiss

    Simple solution – slow down.  You should never be driving faster than the distance that you can see and stop.  If you are driving faster, then you are violating the basic speed law, which is against the California Vehicle code.  It’s the same as when you are driving in fog, or around corners.  Your fault if you weren’t able to stop.

  •  If, as a driver, you have even the slightest tendency to blame a pedestrian for getting killed while they are in a crosswalk, this means you are psychologically unwilling to take responsibility for not hitting pedestrians in crosswalks. This is not a good state of affairs for you or the pedestrians of San Francisco.

    Yes, it is dark at night. Yes, people who wear dark clothing are hard to see. Yes, it is poor design to place crosswalks entirely at the mercy of unchecked 30 – 50 mph traffic.

    However, people who cross the street in a crosswalk are not obliged to run. You, as a licensed operator of a motorized vehicle, are legally obliged to drive slowly enough in the given conditions (rain! fog! darkness!) to be able to spot people in crosswalks and stop for them. If you have to drive 10 mph, so be it.

    You, as a car driver, must operate your vehicle so as not to kill people. Especially people who have the right of way! Drunk or sober, killing someone will ruin your life, if not permanently, then at least for many years. San Francisco is a crowded place with many pedestrians. If you don’t feel it’s your responsibility not to hit one with your car, eventually you will.

    It would be best if you stopped driving until you come to terms with the responsibility moving a heavy, deadly piece of machinery entails. You will benefit from this more than you know.

  • jenofla

    I live at Forest View and Sloat, and I’ve always thought a traffic signal would be nice there, given the number of high school students who cross that intersection.

    Also, for those who say a drunk would still ignore traffic signals, a pedestrian was killed here two years ago and the driver was not drunk. I do want to point out that if a pedestrian starts walking in a crosswalk right in front of a car going 35 half a block away, expecting a car to go from 35 to 0 without hitting them is very optimistic and belies an understanding of neural circuitry and physics. If there are cars parked on the street, one may not see someone in the crosswalk until they are in the street. Some of these comments make it seem like if someone darts out in front of a car and gets hit, it’s the driver’s fault no matter what. Sheesh. You can still get killed by a car going 10mph.

    I think we need a traffic light here, not just for the cars, but for the pedestrians.

  • While I didn’t personally know Hanren, it saddened me deeply to hear that somebody so close to a friend of mine suffered from such reckless behavior. I cannot fathom the feelings and emotions have been running through the minds of Hanren’s friends and family. I wish for them with my heartfelt compassion, warmth, and love, for the process of grieving is never what one expects. 

  • Anonymous

    It is *your* responsibility (legally and ethically) to see and yield to pedestrians.  End of story.

    If you can’t see well enough without “fancy headlights” then SLOW DOWN.  If you still can’t see them STOP DRIVING.

  • I was in a college town/bar area in Portland or Seattle about a year ago that specifically allowed you to pre-pay a meter up to 10am the next day to help those who might be tempted to drive when they shouldnt’.

  • Yeung_lester

    If the intersection of Sloat and Vale installed a traffic light, Chang’s life might be safed,  the traffic limit is35 MPH, but all the drivers drive over 35 MPH, whe they see a pedistriian crossing, its too late!  

  • R Lee.

    Ok lets all agree that there is a problem with Sloat Blvd. But lets take a step back and look at what happened. It was a DRUNK DRIVER!!! Again, DRUNK DRIVER!!! All the traffic lights, cross walks and any thing else in the world would not have make a difference. Even a crossing guard!!! The only thing that would’ve stopped it, is a police officer pulling his DRUNK ASS over before the DRUNK drove thru San Francisco & take him to jail. When a person is DRUNK, (repeat “DRUNK”) his or her vision, comprehension, reaction, judgement, everything is IMPAIRED (repeat “IMPAIRED). Please understand that point first. So remarks like “there should be…. and the situation would have been different” FALSE! A DRUNK WILL DRIVE THROUGH ANY THING AND ANY ONE. I am addressing this particular situation and not the other general problems of Sloat Blvd. Not to say it’s not worth addressing. But this article is about what happened to Hanren Chang. Let’s focus on a correct theme here “DON’T DRIVE AND DRIVE”. Even those who has multiple counts of DRUNK DRIVING and their license revoked. There are still individuals who choose to DRINK & DRIVE. Can you find a solution to it? If you see a drunk on the street, at the bar or restaurant or any where, will you go out of your way and ask if he or she is driving or help them get a cab, or contact someone? think about this, do you turn a blind eye to it. what could you have done. think of the whole picture. chances are, you would have taken a few extra step away from a drunk and go about your business. if you would stop a friend or family from driving drunk, why wouldn’t you help a stranger? FEAR!!! but what’s more important? your fear or someone’s life? are you afraid of getting hurt by a stranger? would you put yourself in harm’s way to save others? I for one do put myself out there. From drunks to people driving at night without there headlights on. Yes! I’ve chased down people on foot and driving and go out of my way to let someone know that they need to turn on their headlights. I’ve been told that I’m crazy. But the countless lives that I’ve made a difference is all that matters. Are you doing your part? Or do you turn a blind eye to a bad situation? I challenge all of you to make a difference in everyone’s life.

  • Guest

    “Brewer’s blood-alcohol content when he was booked into custody was .09, barely above the .08 limit, said Deputy Public Defender Kwixuan Maloof.” –KTVU.com 

    He was BARELY drunk. Had there been a BRIGHTER light, or something, he probably won’t have speed through. 

  • Jessie

     You’re right! Ppl here are losing focus on what happened. They’re just upset. With so many upset ppl, if they did what you said, we can make a difference. I’ll pledge that I will make a difference. If I get hurt, it’s for the RIGHT thing and I’m cool with that. Gotta help my fellow man or woman!

    “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”
    (Edmund Burke)

  • me

     As drivers we all have responsibilities. And you know it! As well as not texting or talking on the phone

    As a pedestrian, you have responsibilities. 
    – Look both ways before crossing. There are those who don’t.
    – Don’t text or talk when crossing the street. You’re not aware of your surroundings! which comes back to the point above.
    – Don’t jay walk.
    – If you’re crossing in the evening and wearing dark clothing, take extra caution. like crossing in a well lit area. especially in bad weather.

    As a city, you have a responsibilities to the safety of pedestrian.
    politician are people too and are flawed. Solutions are out there. And not necessarily the common ones. Look outside the box as well.
    possible solutions are lights in the crosswalk to inform driver that there are pedestrians. some cities have have them and it has been successful. again its a possible solution.
    convicted DUI offense should surrender their license and required to get a new ID or license that limits them to the amount alcohol or none at all for a certain amount of time or permanent depending on the offense. any one caught assisting a convicted DUI shall be convicted in a similar manner. go through a alcohol program, suspended licensed or revoked. 

  • R Lee – would you vote yourself a 3% tax increase to pay for more SFPD officers to enforce the codes? Unless the answer is yes, you’re just posturing.

  • Anonymous

    “«Wearing all dark color clothes, and walking leisurely across» a crosswalk is completely within a person’s right.”

    That doesn’t make it wise. I always wear reflective gear when there is a chance I will be walking later than sunset. I even try to bring a bicycle headlight to shine when crossing streets. 

    This was clearly an unfortunate accident. The driver is surely terribly sorry. A better punishment than jail would be for him to pay his debts to society through payroll deductions, say an additional 10% for the rest of his life.

  • There is nothing accidental about DUI.

  • Emailmesoon_please

    How building an over pass in honor to her death?

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