The Life-Altering Impact of Traffic Violence: Jikaiah Stevens’ Story

Reminder: Today at 5 p.m. at City Hall, a hearing on the SFPD’s treatment of pedestrian and bicycle crashes will be held by the Police Commission and a Board of Supervisors committee. You’re invited to share your thoughts at the Board of Supervisors Chamber, Room 250.

We’ve heard the story too many times. A reckless driver strikes a person, at no fault of the victim’s, and the motorist faces no legal repercussions. It happens even in cases like that of 31-year-old Jikaiah Stevens, who was hit in a crosswalk by Wren Coe in September as she crossed on a green light. Even though witnesses attested to Coe running a red light, and Coe herself admitted fault, she didn’t get so much as a ticket.

Dolly Totes and her team produced this superb mini documentary, “Walk at Her Own Risk,” which tells Stevens’ story in the broader context of pedestrian safety in San Francisco. Stevens was also featured in an SF Chronicle story yesterday.

Stevens was left with medical bills of $143,000 and has suffered ailments like brain injury that caused a loss smell and taste, “extreme unexpected social anxiety,” and short-term memory loss. Police say they can’t cite or charge the driver because they didn’t witness the crash themselves. Stevens says no lawyer will take her case to sue Coe because Coe doesn’t have enough assets. An online fundraiser has been set up to help pay her bills.

“I say, I got hit by a car in a crosswalk, and they go, oh, so that person’s in a lot of trouble now, huh?” Stevens says. “I go, actually no, none. She doesn’t have to pay anything, and she got her license, and she can go hit anyone else she wants.”

  • murphstahoe

    If we consider a certain amount of these “accidents” to be an acceptable collateral damage for our societies need to move people and goods around – as Rob Anderson says “the stats now aren’t that bad for pedestrian fatalities”, and as he also says “That’s just the new Bicycle Coalition slogan, Murph. You’re a good, party line guy” in response to saying that any fatalities above zero are unacceptable…

    Then we should consider payment for the medical bills for the person who does get hit to be the responsibility of the society that has chosen that they are just the unlucky person who is taking one for the team. No matter who is specifically at fault, we are saying “accidents happen” and as such, the government should just pay for their care because they are being hurt not because of one bad driver, but because we have collectively decided that some people are just going to get hurt because we need people and goods to move at high speed.

    Once it becomes clear to the citizenry that one person’s negligence costs THEM money in terms of taxes, then maybe we will get some response from our dulled populace. Even though they should understand that they ALREADY are paying in terms of increased insurance bills and hospital costs (as the hospital amortizes the costs of uncollected bills).

  • This film is extremely well done. Kudos to the makers and a very tragic story. I was glad those ER photos were only photos.

    I am going to Tweet and FB this thru Streetfilms The only caveat is the overuse of the word “accidents” of course, but I made sure to point that out just so there aren’t a slew of comments from people addressing that issue over and over.

  • Steve

    “Police say they can’t cite or charge the driver because they didn’t witness the crash themselves”

    Is this a joke? How on earth can this be true? There’s no way that police could witness more than a few percent of crimes that happen… So why is this any different than other crimes (robbery, murder, assault, etc..) where the victim and witness reports are sufficient?

  • Chris J.

    Aaron, there is an updated version of the YouTube video. You can find the new link if you read the YouTube comments on the original video.

  • Golie

    Do contingency fee lawyers take these types of cases based on the assets of the driver or of the insurance company/policy? I thought the by law the driver has to carry a minimum amount of insurance?

  • Sprague

    Great film! It should be seen by almost anyone who walks in San Francisco. It explains very well how incompatible wide, multi-lane, one-way streets are in a pedestrian environment. Something has to give in San Francisco. It can’t continue to be unlucky pedestrians who pay the highest price for our city’s dysfunctional transportation system. As streetsblog has long been advocating, traffic calming (and many other improvements) are needed along with greater enforcement of existing laws. Finally, there appears to be widespread awareness of the need for more enforcement. Thank you streetsblog (and Aaron) and the filmmakers and participants.(sorry, this comment wasn’t in reply to anyone; disqus didn’t seem to allow me to comment except as a reply)