Following a post that surfaced on an online forum, officials from the city's District Attorney's office are considering pressing charges against a bicyclist involved in a collision that killed an elderly pedestrian in San Francisco's Castro district last week.
Chris Bucchere was reportedly biking through the intersection of Market and Castro streets when he collided with 71-year-old San Bruno resident Sutchi Hui.
Both Bucchere and Hui were hospitalized after accident; however, while Bucchere was released with minor injuries, Hui passed away on Monday.
In a comment posted on the website of local cycling group MissionCycling.org the evening of the accident, a commenter using Bucchere's name, with an account linked to his email address, recounted the series of events leading up to the accident. The post has since been taken down. It read:
The light turned yellow as I was approaching the intersection, but I was already way too committed to stop. The light turned red as I was cruising through the middle of the intersection and then, almost instantly, the southern crosswalk on Market and Castro filled up with people coming from both directions...I couldn't see a line through the crowd and I couldn't stop, so I laid it down and just plowed through the crowded crosswalk in the least-populated place I could find.
I remember seeing a RIVER of blood on the asphalt, but it wasn't mine. I really hope he ends up OK.
Dedicating the post to his now-broken helmet, he wrote, "may she die knowing that because she committed the ultimate sacrifice, her rider and live and ride on. Can I get an amen? Amen."
D.A. Spokesman Omid Talai told the San Francisco Chronicle they considered the posts to be the work of Bucchere. "We've seen it," said Talai. "It's troubling."
The post, especially that part about the moral of the story being to always wear a helmet, provoked the negative reaction from other users of the site.
One commenter replied, ""Not sure that’s the moral of the story," with another adding, "[the real moral is to slow down] especially when blasting through busy parts of town during rush hour."
In a subsequent post, MissionCycling.org distanced itself from Bucchere:
It should be noted that Chris Bucchere is not a member of Mission Cycling. He isn’t now and he wasn’t at the time of this accident. His reckless riding on that day is completely antithetical to the way we go about our sport. We don’t condone dangerous riding in any way. We believe it’s better to ride calmly and safely so you can enjoy a great ride with friends than to ride recklessly and jeopardize your health and the health of those around you. Given the way this event is being reported, it’s also worth mentioning that Bucchere was alone at the time this happened and not part of any official club event.
In a statement on the cycling advocacy group's website, San Francisco Bike Coalition Executive Director Leah Shahum urged the city's rapidly expanding bike community to abide traffic safety laws. "As advocates working for safer streets, we condemn reckless behavior--whether on a bicycle or in a car," Shahum said. "Those who put others in danger should be held accountable for their actions."
Coalition volunteers stood at some of the city's busiest bike intersections on Friday morning passing out the organization's "Bicycle Rules of the Road" safety pamphlet reminding riders that pedestrians always have the right of way, no matter if they're in a crosswalk or not.
Last month, another San Francisco cyclist, Randolph Ang, pleaded guilty to a charge of vehicular manslaughter for a similar collision along the Embarcadero that killed a 68-year old pedestrian. Ang was sentenced to three years probation, 500 hours of community service and payment of over $15,000 in restitution to the victim's family.
The San Francisco Bay Guardian noted that, while these bicycling fatalities tend to get a lot of media coverage, they're far from the norm:
Check out this video showing tips on how to bike safely on crowded city streets:
Yet activists also sought to place this case in context, noting that an average of almost three pedestrians are hit by cars everyday in San Francisco, even though that rarely makes headlines. There were 220 pedestrians killed in San Francisco from 2000-2009, the vast majority hit by cars whose drivers rarely faced criminal charges. In fact, the same week that Sustchi Hui was killed there was another pedestrian killed by a motorist and another one by a Muni bus.