A San Francisco woman who was reportedly speeding and changing lanes recklessly before a 2013 multi-vehicle crash that killed a 16-year-old boy and injured his mother and sister was sentenced to six years in prison on Wednesday.
Jennie Zhu, 63, was convicted in June of vehicular manslaughter and reckless driving in connection with the Sept. 27, 2013 collision at the edge of Nob Hill.
Judge Samuel Feng sentenced Zhu to six years, the maximum possible term, for a single count of vehicular manslaughter. He also sentenced her to 16 months for each of two counts of reckless driving, but those sentences will be served concurrently with the manslaughter sentence.
Court records show Zhu was driving her Mercedes SUV at a high speed in the area of Pine and Polk streets when she was first seen by patrol officers. The officers followed her, and saw that she was driving faster than their vehicle, which was traveling 35 to 40 mph, and witnesses later told police she was driving as fast as 80 mph. The posted speed limit in the area was 25 mph.
When she reached Pine and Gough streets, where vehicles were stopped, Zhu tried to change lanes but struck a Chevy Venture minivan with three people inside before then going airborne and hitting another vehicle parked at the curb. A Muni bus, another unoccupied parked vehicle and a white van were also involved in the collision, with the white van being pushed into the intersection from the impact.
Police at the time said three other people were injured in the crash, although not critically.
The minivan was crushed and knocked on its side, and one of its passengers, 16-year-old Lincoln High School student Kevin San, suffered a fatal head injury and died at the scene. His mother suffered head trauma, neck and back injuries, while his sister suffered multiple fractures.
Zhu was also hospitalized.
Zhu’s defense attorney Alfred Vea initially asked Feng for the minimum sentence, saying that Zhu, an immigrant from China, is a model citizen who has no criminal record.
Describing the fatal crash as a “horrible accident,” Vea said, “I don’t believe, despite the verdict, that she had any intention of causing this.”
San’s parents, visibly emotional, appeared at the sentencing.
“Has she ever thought about how this has impacted us?” Kevin San’s father Hong San said in court via a Cantonese interpreter.
“My family will no longer be a normal family,” he said. “The very minimal responsibility you should take is to pay your dues and not run away from your responsibility.”
Zhu, who was also assisted by a Cantonese interpreter, was immediately remanded into custody.
-Bay City News contributed to this report