Pedestrian rights activists are calling for criminal charges against a shuttle bus driver who ran over a man in a crosswalk in the Tenderloin last week. But prosecutors say that California law typically only supports criminal charges when the crash results in death.
Surveillance footage captured the tragic collision at Eddy and Leavenworth streets at about 2:15 p.m. on Feb. 14.
The victim, using a cane, stepped into the crosswalk and was almost immediately struck by the van, which was making a right turn. The victim ended up pinned under the van.
Fire crews extricated the victim about 20 minutes after the crash, San Francisco fire Lt. Mindy Talmadge said. He was seriously injured but is expected to survive.
The driver of the shuttle bus received a citation for failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk, police Officer Albie Esparza said.
Walk SF, a pedestrian advocacy group, wants the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office to file criminal charges.
But police and prosecutors say that is unlikely in this case. Unintentionally causing a traffic collision that leads to injury is not a crime under California law unless the driver acted recklessly.
“In order to be found reckless, you must be acting in a willful disregard for the safety of others,” Assistant District Attorney Omid Talai said.
Being reckless is not the same as being negligent, Talai said. For example, drivers who rear-end other cars, causing injury, might be negligent but in no way intended to act in a way that caused harm.
However, if a person dies as a result of a collision, the driver could face vehicular manslaughter charges, prosecutors say. For instance, a bicyclist accused of fatally striking a pedestrian after running a red light on The Embarcadero last summer faces that charge.