Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi isn't the only San Francisco resident to strike a controversial plea deal from the District Attorney's office this week.
On Monday, Randolph Ang pleaded guilty to a charge of vehicular manslaughter stemming from an incident last July, when the 23-year old Ang crashed into 68-year old pedestrian Dionette "Didi" Cherney after running a red light cycling along the Embarcadero. Cherney, a tourist visiting San Francisco from Washington, D.C., suffered traumatic brain injuries and died a few weeks later.
Ang, a recent Bucknell graduate who claimed he was rushing to work when the accident occurred, was sentenced to three years probation, 500 hours of community service and paying over $15,000 in restitution to the victim's family.
CBS San Francisco's Phil Matier reports:
The case brings to light the interactions that drivers, cyclists and pedestrians have on city streets every day, and this had the DA's office wondering for months how it should be treated, whether the young man should be made an example of.
There have been calls from some quarters to give Ang a harsh sentence--the maximum sentence for vehicular manslaughter is one year in county jail--as a message to other bike riders that there are strict penalties for the unsafe operation of their vehicles. However, an excessively punitive punishment was something DiDi Cherney's family expressly didn't want to see happen. "Our loss is done," said widower Coke Cherney in a statement.
Despite his wishes that Ang not face jail time, Cherney did have some harsh words for San Francisco's bicyclists. "This city has a real problem," he said. "Unless people start obeying the law or it gets enforced, more people are going to have to go through this."
Ang has vowed to become a bike safety advocate, pledging to use his court-ordered community service hours volunteering with an organization that promotes bicycle safety.
"Mr. Ang is in a position to discuss with bikers road safety consciousness about pedestrians," Ang's attorney, Tony Brass, told Bay City News. "So if he can serve as a symbol to sort of improve the situation with pedestrians in San Francisco, then there would be some meaning out of this very tragic event."
D.A. George Gascon was criticized for playing politics with the case as to not offend the city's often politically engaged bicycling community or the legions of pedestrians and car drivers who are regularly annoyed with them. Gascon announced the charge of involuntary manslaughter right after his reelection, saying his office only received the medical report the day before.