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Bicycle Safety

SFPD Arrests Suspected Driver Who Assaulted Cyclists in San Francisco

109962268.jpgPhoto: Troy Holden.

The San Francisco Police Department has arrested the suspected driver of a blue Nissan Rogue who careened into four cyclists in the span of several minutes in the Mission and Potrero Hill neighborhoods of San Francisco Wednesday night, before fleeing on foot and triggering a manhunt. Three of the four cyclists were rushed to the hospital where they are still recovering.

No details have been made about the suspect, but SFPD Police Chief George Gascón is scheduled to hold a press conference at 4: 30 pm to discuss the case. We'll be there.

Meanwhile, Rachel Kagen, a spokesperson for San Francisco General Hospital, was happy to report that the cyclist who had been in critical condition has been upgraded to serious condition. The other two patients remain in serious and fair condition, respectively. Kagen said all three were alert and responsive, and have declined requests for media interviews.

Streetsblog spoke to medical responder who first arrived on the scene where the fourth cyclist was hit near the corner of 17th and Missouri Streets.

Denise, a certified California EMT who didn't want to provide her last name, said she was in her room near the Bottom of the Hill club, less than a block from the incident. The bands playing at the Bottom of the Hill were between sets, she said, so numerous people were outside talking and smoking cigarettes.

Suddenly she heard a loud collision outside her window and the sound of a man yelling. She grabbed her medical gloves and her equipment and ran outside to assess the situation.

In her estimation, Denise reached the victim less than a minute after she
heard the crash, but the driver was already gone.

"[The cyclist] was lying in the street, he was not pinned. His bike was super bent
up. He was in the middle of the street," she said. "He was coherent, never showed  a changing level of consciousness."

Based on her observations and reports from witnesses, Denise said the Nissan Rogue had been traveling westbound on 17th Street
before turning into the cyclist's path and broadsiding him at the
intersection of 17th and Missouri. The motorist then veered into parked
cars on Missouri Street between 17th and Mariposa, before backing up,
hitting another car, then lurching forward into a pole. Both of the
airbags in the vehicle had deployed.

Denise took the cyclist's vitals and was later joined by two other medical responders. All three waited until the paramedics showed up, which was less than five minutes after the incident. She said the cyclist's left femur was broken. 

She presumed the cyclist was riding to the Bottom of the Hill to hear the bands because one of his friends was on the scene moments after he was hit by the car.

When asked if she thought the victim suspected he was being followed or targeted, she said no. "I would
guess he wasn't even thinking of that, but was riding his bike across the street
and the driver made a left turn and broadsided him."

Though she said the cyclist was clearly in excruciating pain, "he was super cool about the whole event." 

Neither Denise nor any of the other people on the scene realized at the time that this was the fourth assault of the evening and didn't realize until she got online the next morning, where she read about the three other incidents.

Denise said she was never interviewed by the SFPD, but her friend had taken identifying information from the glove compartment of the Nissan Rogue and gave it to officers when they arrived on the scene.

"I'm super happy no one died," said Denise, a regular bike rider. "It's super awful and gross and disgusting, but I don't have any fears about riding because of this."

She did hope to see severe charges against the driver. "I hope they try him for murder one, four times."

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