Pedestrian death is Muni's third in three months

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The third pedestrian fatality under the wheels of a San Francisco Municipal Railway vehicle in 2007 occured Tuesday morning when a bus hit a woman in the Tenderloin.

Xiao Feng Beng, 49, was pronounced dead at the scene after a 27-Bryant bus turning north on Leavenworth Street from westbound Ellis Street ran her over at about 7:30 a.m. Tuesday as she tried to cross Leavenworth Street.

Witnesses said Beng was caught under one of the bus’s rear wheels, and that a tire track was visible on her back as she lay motionless in Leavenworth.

Beng is the third pedestrian to die in a collision with a Muni vehicle this year, officials reported. On Jan. 11, an elderly man was hit by a 22-Fillmore bus near the intersection of Geary Boulevard and Fillmore Street. He died several days later. On March 18, a J-Church light-rail train struck 40-year-old Edwardo Funes near the intersection of 18th and Church streets, killing him in what police and Muni officials described as a suicide.

The transit agency reported Tuesday that its vehicles were involved in four fatal collisions in 2006, three in 2005, three in 2004 and two in 2003. All but three of those 15 collisions were with pedestrians, spokeswoman Maggie Lynch said.

Muni vehicles have been involved in a total of 338 collisions in total so far in 2007, Lynch said Tuesday. Since 2003, Muni vehicles have been involved in an average of 1,721 collisions per year. Most of those were minor.

Police said Tuesday’s collision started when the bus and Beng both entered the intersection at a green light. Beng was running north on Ellis Street, police spokesman Steve Mannina said, but conflicting witness reports made it difficult to determine how exactly the collision happened.

“They were both basically looking at the same light,” Mannina said. As the bus swung right onto Leavenworth, it hit Beng, running her over. Witnesses said the driver stopped just after the collision. Police found blood on the street about 8 feet north of the crosswalk, Mannina said.

The driver, who has been with the agency for 11½ years, and had been driving the route since January, was taken to Saint Francis Memorial Hospital for observation because she was so distraught following the crash, Mannina said.

“Unfortunately, we’re a very dense, urban area. We have cars and bikes and delivery vehicles and pedestrians all trying to get their footprint of this space,” Lynch said. “The Department of Parking and Traffic is doing everything they can to make the streets safer and clearly they’re having success, but we can’t do it alone. Everyone needs to work to make the streets safer.”

amartin@examiner.com

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