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Pedestrian Safety

Driver of UCSF Shuttle Bus Hits and Kills Pedestrian in Tenderloin Crosswalk

Now official SFPD evidence, this surveillance video shows the front of the bus at the very top of the photo. The arrow points to the woman who was crossing. Photo: Bryan Goebel
Now official SFPD evidence, this surveillance video shows the front of the bus at the very top of the photo. The arrow points to the woman who was crossing. Photo: Bryan Goebel

Surveillance video from a Tenderloin market shows that a 65-year-old woman was in the crosswalk on Geary Boulevard and Leavenworth Street Wednesday afternoon and clearly had the right-of-way when the driver of a UCSF shuttle bus loaded with passengers struck and killed her.

Suman Dhakal, who works at Star Market Liquor and Deli on the southeast corner, played the video for Streetsblog before it was turned over to SFPD investigators. KTVU managed to capture video of the surveillance footage.

"It looks like it's the driver's fault from my point of view because it was a green light and she was right in front of him. Maybe he was doing something inside and not paying attention but from the video it looks like he should have seen the lady," said Dhakal.

The woman was walking southbound in the crosswalk on Geary Boulevard around 12:10 pm when she was hit by the driver, who had been traveling north and was making a left turn onto Geary.  The owner of Star Market, Marwan Aburahma, told KTVU that the shuttle driver backed up after the first impact, running over the woman a second time.

"I don't know if he was scared or he wanted to back up or something but he backed up the bus and hit her again and she died on the spot," Dhakal said.

An SFPD spokesperson, Sgt. Michael Andraychak, could not say how many passengers were on the bus, but none of them was injured. The driver was questioned, released and not cited. However, Andraychak said an investigation would be completed by the SFPD's hit-and-run detail and forwarded to the District Attorney's office. The driver was also expected to be tested for drugs and alcohol.

Photo: KTVU
Photo: KTVU

"UCSF is deeply saddened by this loss of life and we extend condolences to the family and friends of the deceased," said a statement issued by UCSF. KTVU and the Chronicle reported that the driver had been operating shuttles for UCSF for three years and "had a clean driving record."

"This is awful news. San Francisco should be a great walking city, and instead it's a danger zone. The city needs to focus on how it will make streets safer for all of us as pedestrians," said Elizabeth Stampe, the executive director of Walk SF.

The intersection of Geary and Leavenworth has been a troublesome spot for years. Dhakal said he sees minor crashes and near misses on a daily basis and some longtime residents who spoke to Streetsblog said they are fearful of the intersection.

"Every morning I have to walk that way and you fight when you have the green light. These drivers just come around the corner, they don't look and they look at you like you shouldn't even be there. It's awful. I complained to the Board of Supervisors," said Sheryl, 63, a resident who lives on Leavenworth near Post Street, both one-way arterials.

"I think it's very bad because it's one-way," said Colleen, who lives nearby and was shopping at Star Market. "People try to sneak around the corner. They only look to the right and I've almost been hit a couple of times."

According to citywide collision data recently obtained by Streetsblog (that offers only basic information), there were a total of 12 crashes in 2009 on or near Leavenworth Street involving automobiles and pedestrians (including one involving a taxi and a pedestrian on Geary at Leavenworth on 10/19/2009). This year, there have now been six. A number of crashes were also reported involving autos and bicyclists.

In 2007, a 49-year-old woman, Xiao Deng, was killed when she was hit by a Muni bus as it was turning right onto Leavenworth from Ellis Street.

Streetsblog intern Aaron Bialick contributed to this report.

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