Driver Traveling at High Speed without Lights Seriously Injures Pedestrian

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A driver traveling at a high speed without headlights on struck and seriously injured a pedestrian on Columbus near the intersection of Grant early this morning. The pedestrian, a 56-year-old male San Francisco resident, suffered life-threatening injuries and is still in the hospital, according to Sgt. Wilfred Williams, an SFPD spokesperson.

The driver, a 33-year-old male who is not a resident of San Francisco, remained at the scene of the crash, which occurred around 1 a.m. today. "The driver hasn’t been charged at this time," said Williams. "We’ll see where the investigation goes and if it warrants an arrest."

The driver was traveling northbound on Columbus in a Toyota Land Cruiser SUV, and struck the pedestrian as he crossed Columbus heading westbound near Grant. The pedestrian was not in a marked crosswalk at the time, Williams said, though the intersection of Grant and Columbus does not have one.

Updated at 11:50 a.m.

  • Living right up the street from here, I’ll quickly comment on a couple things.

    -Riding my bike home down Embarcadero from Caltrain, up Broadway, and past this intersection on my way up Grant, I see at least 2 cars without their lights on every night. Often it is 4 or more.

    -Walking around the neighborhood I usually see 4 or more a night with out their lights on. I’m the guy trying to get drivers’ attention while crossing the street telling them to turn them on.

    -Even though we don’t know where the accident happened, people always cross from Giordano’s to Viva in the middle of the street. I do it all the time. You can even see a lady doing with pushing a kid in a stroller.

    -Cars come flying up Columbus street, especially in an effort to beat the lights at Broadway since it a long light cycle in both directions. Actually, I’m usually more worried about the east/west Broadway traffic at this intersection because the tunnel gets cars up to 50-60 mph.

    Whatever happened, it is a shame and I wish the person a full recovery.

  • Andy Chow

    All cars should have daytime running lights. Cars with those would turn on the lights automatically if the driver forgets. It is particularly helpful in rainy and foggy conditions where lights are useful and mandatory but the driver may be unaware of that.

  • Agreed, with all the technology now, it shouldn’t even be a question. I hate looking over my shoulder to change lanes in my bike and not seeing a car until it is right on top of me because they don’t have their lights on.

  • Street view looking south on Columbus. Note the man standing in the middle of the street crossing.,+San+Francisco,+California+94114&layer=c&cbll=37.798254,-122.407242&panoid=ab2syqjZLXlKyCIpya4wEw&cbp=12,81.85,,0,18.45&source=embed&ll=37.798154,-122.407098&spn=0,359.995692&z=18

  • James Figone

    It would be nice to have a proper crossing at Grant St it is a long walk to Broadway if you want to cross with a light. The lack of a cross walk also interrupts pedestrian flow from lower Grant to upper Grant and Coit Tower. The whole Columbus corridor could a thorough redesign. Best wishes to the victim of this collision.

  • Jeffrey W. Baker

    The policeman is mistaken. If the man was crossing at the intersection of two streets, neither of which is an alley, he was “in a crosswalk.” Possibly an unmarked crosswalk, granted, but to state that the man was not in a crosswalk is incorrect. Police should be expected to know basic things about the law.

  • tommy

    very important point, jeffrey. michael rhodes should have noted this. a pedestrian HAS THE RIGHT OF WAY in an unmarked crosswalk. really pisses me off that this cop would try to imply that the pedestrian carelessly got himself killed. i mean, obviously a person can’t just jump out right in front of a car, but i HIGHLY doubt this is the case.

  • Michael Rhodes

    Jeffrey and Tommy: that is an important point about crosswalks, even if unmarked. I’ve updated the post to clarify that Sgt. Williams said the crash occurred on Columbus near Grant, though not necessarily at the intersection. The precise location of the crash may become clear later on, and I’ll update the post at that time.

  • Andy Chow

    You can’t stop for something that you can’t see. Whether it is on a crosswalk or not is not that relevant.

  • tommy

    andy: right, but generally speaking, a grown man CAN be seen by a car driver even if it is night, one of the nearby streetlights is out, and the car’s headlights are off. how? by driving at a speed appropriate for the conditions (which at night is likely a little less than the official speed limit, and much less if the street is very dark, it’s raining, it’s foggy), paying full attention to the road ahead, and not being drunk.

    often when we say drivers “can’t” see pedestrians or bikes, it’s not the appropriate term. it should be: they “fail to” see them, because they’re driving recklessly.

  • ZA

    I can’t recommend this course of action for all, but I’ve seen headlights out so often during inclement weather, dusk, and nightfall when I’m cycling and walking that I’ve taken to trying to remind drivers to switch them on by:

    – *Friendly* gestures,
    – shouts of “lights!” and “luz!” ,
    – plus keeping a bright flashlight with me on walks (to shine at cars with lights out).

  • ZA – I yell at so many cars it is unreal. I should almost keep tabs on it because the numbers would be so high. I usually try to be nice at first, a wave and what not. Then they usually think you are crazy, so you have to yell “lights!” about 5 times. But I like the last step of having a flash light to blink at them.

    How do these people not get pulled over? Do we not have police on our roads? Are people too afraid to flash their lights for fear of some urban myth?

  • ZA

    @Mikesonn – yeah, I don’t wave so much as flick my hands out palms directed at the driver. I usually have more luck when I can pull up beside them and ask to talk to them.

    I found those $5.00 (with batteries!) LED flashlights are handy … small with a button switch at the base, and very bright.

  • I’ll look for those. Funny thing, I pull out of the Caltrain station and am sitting at 4th and King to turn onto King and low and behold a car without its lights on turns next to me. 5 secs into my ride I see one – getting out of hand. Wonder if the DOT needs to run some ads for turning on lights maybe through the holidays and into January. But it comes back to the fact that they should be automatic by now, we are almost to 2010. Granted we didn’t get flying cars and hover skateboards, but we should at least have auto lights.

  • ZA

    My message suggestions for a campaign:

    “You Think You Can See Them, But They Can’t See You – Turn Your Lights On!”


    “First the Lights, Now Your Brain. Switch On, Drive Safely.”


    “Lights On, Phones Off”

  • Whether it’s a “marked” or “unmarked” crosswalk is irrelevant. As long as it’s a path connecting two segments of a sidewalk interrupted be a roadway, pedestrians have right-of-way. The paint is merely a courtesy.

    Marked crosswalks may also appear elsewhere, for example mid-block or at T-intersections, where without the paint they would not be considered a crosswalk.

  • memememe

    Does anyone know the outcome of the this? Regardless of lights or no lights or crosswalk or not… hoping the pedestrian is OK.


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