By: Mike Aldax | 04/25/12
SF Examiner Staff Writer
A bicyclist will be charged this week in connection with the collision that killed a 71-year-old pedestrian in a Castro district crosswalk last month, though whether he will face misdemeanor or felony charges is yet to be determined.
On March 29, Chris Bucchere, 35, collided with Sutchi Hui, who died days later at San Francisco General Hospital.
District Attorney George Gascón, speaking at an event Wednesday, said his office will be charging Bucchere with vehicular manslaughter.
“We’re definitely filing,” Gascón said. “We’re still evaluating whether the case will be prosecuted as a felony or misdemeanor.”
He said prosecutors will 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,” Gascón 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.”
A GPS locator on Bucchere’s bike allegedly shows he was riding faster than 35 mph in a 25 mph zone, police Capt. Denis O’Leary, head of Police Department’s traffic division, told The San Francisco Examiner on Wednesday.
Investigators have debunked original eyewitness reports that Bucchere entered the intersection on a red light, saying it was yellow. However, police said, he showed recklessness by speeding and failing to yield to a pedestrian.
Also, video surveillance footage from a camera at 17th and Market streets captured Bucchere making little to no effort to stop, O’Leary said.
“We have a witness that puts him blowing stop signs and lights on Divisadero Street,” the captain added.
The evidence against Bucchere shows he was grossly negligent, according to police investigators, thus possibly raising the criminal charge from a misdemeanor to a felony.
However, convincing a jury of that charge may be difficult, legal experts say. Prosecutors would have to convince a jury that Bucchere knew he could kill someone with his bike, said University of San Francisco law professor Bob Talbot.
“When you’re driving a bicycle, you don’t associate it with death,” he said.
Bucchere would become the second local cyclist within a year to face criminal charges for a pedestrian death. Randolph Ang, 23, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of vehicular manslaughter last month for a July collision.