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Posts from the "Carnage" Category

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SFPD Arrests Aunt for Leaving Two-Year-Old Mi’yana Gregory in Crosswalk

SF police have arrested 25-year-old Lorysha Gage for leaving two-year-old Mi’yana Gregory in the downtown crosswalk where she was run over and killed last Friday night. Even as police seek the driver who struck Gregory and fled the scene, Gage is set to be arraigned tomorrow on charges of “felony child endangerment, with an enhancement allegation for causing death.”

Media reports initially quoted family members saying Gage had the walk signal when she crossed Mission in the crosswalk between Fourth and Fifth Streets, with Gregory and her twin brother in tow. The SFPD now says Gage was crossing against the signal, had left Gregory in the street unattended to retrieve her brother from the sidewalk, and that the driver had a green light.

“The investigation showed some evidence that there was some child neglect that resulted in the death of the two-year-old toddler,” SFPD spokesperson Albie Esparza told KTVU.

On the day of the arrest, SFPD Sergeant John Bragagnolo targeted citations towards “jaywalking” pedestrians at the crosswalk where Gregory died, telling KTVU he pointed to Gregory’s memorial when ticketing them.

“Pedestrians feel their speed and their hurry is more important than their safety,” Bragagnolo said.

Putting aside generalizations about the feelings of people who walk, this is an unusual case among pedestrian crashes: The SFPD’s data show that the top five causes are all driver violations, which the SFPD has pledged to focus enforcement on. In May, however, we reported that although SFPD’s “Focus on the Five” citations were reportedly increasing, its tickets issued to people walking and biking were increasing far faster. After a peak of 723 citations issued to pedestrians in March [PDF], the monthly number dropped at 444 in June [PDF], the latest month for which citation data has been reported.

Police say it’s unclear whether the driver who caused Gregory’s death was even aware he or she had run over an infant.

Walk SF Executive Director Nicole Scheider said “it’s a really challenging case, in that the arrest is broader than just an issue of pedestrian safety at this point.”

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Eyes on the Street: Parked Car Sets House on Fire

Sometimes, internal combustion can become spontaneous combustion.

An SFFD fire truck arrives to put out a house fire started by a parked car. Photo: Aaron Bialick

On the night of May 17, the front of my neighbor’s house in the Inner Sunset caught on fire. Another neighbor said that the fire started in the engine of the car parked in their driveway. No one was hurt, and SFFD responded swiftly and effectively to put the fire out — Station 22 is just one block away, at 16th Avenue and Irving Street. I caught the scene in the video below.

The residents will incur an immense cost in both time and money to rebuild their home, and only because one car engine momentarily failed to control one in the endless series of pressurized explosions that it typically manages to deal with. The off chance of a runaway blaze now becomes yet another in the long list of hazards and nuisances that can result from nearby parked cars.

Given the ongoing debate with SFFD over street width, it was also interesting to watch firefighters in action on a typical Inner Sunset avenue. I’d estimate that the street has about 25 feet of clear space between the parked cars, plus some wiggle room in front of driveways and in unoccupied parking spots. In this case, the firefighters and their trucks appeared to have plenty of room to work with, though they didn’t have to stabilize their truck to set up a ladder and reach above the three-story house.

It’s worth noting, by the way, that it’s illegal to store a car in a ”setback” like that, even though the SFMTA does not enforce that code.

Photo: Aaron Bialick

See the video after the jump.

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Pedestrian Seriously Injured by N-Judah Train at Judah and 16th Ave

The crash scene on Judah, looking west from 15th Avenue. Photo: Aaron Bialick

Updated 8:07 p.m. The SFPD issued this statement:

An outbound N Judah LRV (Light Rail Vehicle) heading W/B on Judah was crossing 15th St. For unknown reason a pedestrian seen standing on the inbound or eastbound Judah line platform walked out and contacted the rear of the 2nd car and then fell to the ground. The pedestrian suffered a head laceration and trauma and is now at SFGH currently in the operating room and should be in ICU later to night. He is listed with life threatening injuries. The pedestrian is a 29 year old male.

A pedestrian suffered life-threatening injuries after being hit by a westbound N-Judah train at Judah Street and 16th Avenue in the Inner Sunset at about 2:12 p.m., according to the SFPD. Police at the scene said they had no information available about the victim, or how the crash occurred.

The N-Judah is currently shut down, and Muni is running shuttle bus service instead.

At the scene, police were investigating the crash, with the train stopped on the uphill crest approaching the N’s 16th Avenue stop, where visibility can be hindered by the sudden change in grade. N-Judah operators often run the three-block stretch between the Funston and 16th Avenue stops at higher than normal speeds, picking up momentum to help the train climb the crest. There are no stop signs or traffic signals on that stretch of Judah, and the train was stopped between the crosswalks at 15th and 16th Avenues.

SFPD said the victim was taken to SF General Hospital.

The train was stopped short of the 16th Avenue stop and crosswalk. Photo: Aaron Bialick

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Driver Johny Castillo-Alonzo, 26, Killed by Light-Running Driver on C. Chavez

The car driven by Johny Castillo-Alonzo, 26, killed by a reckless driver at Cesar Chavez and Folsom Streets. Image: KTVU

Johny Castillo-Alonzo, 26, of Daly City was killed while driving at Cesar Chavez and Folsom Streets after another driver ran a red light and broadsided his car at about 2:20 a.m. on Saturday, according to reports. Police are still looking for the man, who fled on foot. He had hit Castillo-Alonzo’s car at such high speed that it crashed into a third car and a residential building, KTVU reported.

According to the San Jose Mercury News, several passengers in the suspect’s car reportedly also fled:

As of Monday afternoon, the occupants of the suspect car still had not been found, Esparza said. In light of Alonzo-Castillo’s death, the driver is wanted on vehicular manslaughter charges, and the driver and passengers are wanted on charges of felony hit-and-run resulting in death.

Car occupants tend to be killed in San Francisco traffic less frequently than pedestrians and bicyclists, who are the far more vulnerable users on the street. But even those traveling inside steel frames on these streets can have their lives ruined or taken by reckless driving. Of the 28 traffic deaths in 2011, eight were in motor vehicles, according to SFPD stats; more recent totals weren’t available. Roughly 60 percent of trips are taken by auto in the city, according to the SFMTA.

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The Death Toll From Cars Is Even Higher Than You Thought

Ten days ago, a four-year-old boy near Houston was killed when a neighbor backed his pickup truck over him. At least 50 times a week, people back their cars over kids in the U.S. On average, two of those 50 incidents are fatal. But you won’t see them represented in official crash statistics.

Four-year-old Zain Ali Hussain's death, like the deaths of an average of 1,621 people per year, will not be counted in NHTSA's traffic death statistics because he was hit in a driveway, not a public road. Photo: ##http://www.click2houston.com/news/deputies-child-hit-and-killed-by-pickup/25434032##Click2Houston##

Four-year-old Zain Ali Hussain’s death will not be counted in NHTSA’s traffic fatality statistics because he was hit in a driveway, not a public road. Photo: Click2Houston

Every year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issues a grim summation of the death toll on American roads: 33,561 killed in 2012. The year before that: 32,479. The year before that: 32,999. But this statistic leaves out many fatalities caused by cars and drivers. And the victims it undercounts the most are pedestrians and cyclists — and children.

NHTSA does track these other deaths, but it categorizes them differently. The agency recently released its “Not-in-Traffic Surveillance” numbers from 2008 to 2011 [PDF] — which measures injuries and deaths in “nontraffic motor vehicle crashes” off public roadways. The agency explains:

These crashes… are mostly single-vehicle crashes on private roads, two-vehicle crashes in parking facilities, or collisions with pedestrians on driveways. Then there are also noncrash incidents such as a vehicle falling on a person underneath or unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning.

So, add to the 37,261 people killed in traffic in 2008 another 1,605 killed in “nontraffic.” Between 2008 and 2011, there were 6,483 such deaths and 91,000 such injuries. About 39 percent of the people killed in these incidents weren’t in cars.

Children like Zain account for a disproportionate share of “nontraffic” fatalities. (NHTSA put out a separate report [PDF] on children involved in nontraffic crashes.) Between 2008 and 2011, 13 percent of the victims were 4 or younger, while kids that young account for about 3.5 percent of the overall population. Almost half the children who die in these kinds of incidents are killed by drivers backing up over them. Three percent are killed by rollaway vehicles that no one is driving. Of all children injured in “nontraffic” crashes, 60 percent are not in a car at the time.

NHTSA didn’t collect information on these crashes until 2007, and the agency still doesn’t include them in its annual traffic fatality reporting. The National Safety Council does, however, which helps explain why the NSC’s numbers are always higher than NHTSA’s. The NSC also considers a death to be traffic-related if it occurs within 12 months of the crash; NHTSA’s window is only 30 days.