Wednesday, April 25, 2012
SAN FRANCISCO — District Attorney George Gascon announced Wednesday that charges were expected to be filed in the next few days against a bicyclist involved in a fatal collision with a pedestrian in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood last month.
Speaking at an unrelated event this afternoon, Gascon confirmed that prosecutors plan to charge Chris Bucchere with vehicular manslaughter in connection with the death of 71-year-old Sutchi Hui.
Witnesses said Bucchere ran a red light at Market and Castro streets on the morning of March 29 and struck Hui, who was walking east in a crosswalk, according to police. Hui died at a hospital days later.
“We’re definitely filing,” Gascon said. “We’re still evaluating whether the case will be prosecuted as a felony or misdemeanor.”
He said prosecutors planned to charge Bucchere with a felony if they determine the case involved reckless negligence.
“Based on the evidence that has been presented to us … it shows that the level of negligence here was very high,” Gascon said. “It was not simply being late through an intersection. There’s evidence to support that there were multiple violations of the vehicle code for several blocks.”
He said videotape captured by a security camera at the intersection is “very powerful, and clearly contradicts some of the earlier statements we’ve heard.”
Bucchere’s attorney Ted Cassman was not immediately available for comment Wednesday but said earlier that month that Bucchere, who was also injured in the accident, gave a statement to police while he was in the hospital and is cooperating fully with the investigation.
“Chris believes he entered the intersection lawfully and that he did everything possible to avoid the accident,” Cassman said on April 6.
However, later on the day of the collision, someone using the name Chris Bucchere wrote about the accident on an online forum for Mission Cycling, a local cycling group.
“The light turned yellow as I was approaching the intersection, but I was already way too committed to stop,” the post stated.
He said he hoped Hui was OK, and ended by saying the moral of the story of his crash was the importance of wearing a helmet, eliciting critical comments from other members of the forum.
The post has since been hidden from public view.
Mission Cycling released a statement following the crash, saying Bucchere was not a member of the group and was riding alone at the time of the accident.
San Francisco Bicycle Coalition officials also released a statement saying they were “deeply troubled” by the account of the crash.
Leah Shahum, the coalition’s executive director, said in the statement that the growing number of bicyclists in San Francisco “must follow the rules of the road.”
Shahum said, “Those who put others in danger should be held accountable for their actions.”