Bizarre 101 hit-and-run injures S.F. cyclist

In an improbable series of events Sunday, a driver allegedly fled a crash scene after his car rolled over, pinned a man and was then righted after a collision with a bicyclist.

At about 11 p.m. Sunday, 36-year-old Girogos Vassiliades, of Emeryville, allegedly made an illegal right turn from Market Street onto the entrance of U.S. Highway 101, hitting and injuring a cyclist who was riding in the bicycle lane eastbound on Market, police reported.

San Francisco police Sgt. Steve Mannina said Vassiliades stopped on the onramp after the crash, but then began to drive off. A witness to the crash, who was standing outside Vassiliades’ 2005 Ford Focus when he tried to flee, grabbed the steering wheel to stop him, Mannina said.

As Vassiliades and the witness wrestled for the steering wheel, the Focus rolled up onto a car that was stopped in front of it and flipped onto its side, pinning the witness, Mannina said.

Passers-by ran to help, Mannina said. They righted it, at which point Vassiliades allegedly hit the gas and fled. One of the witnesses followed Vassiliades across the Bay Bridge and into Emeryville, where Emeryville police arrested him, Mannina said.

Police booked Vassiliades for felony hit-and-run, Mannina said.The bicyclist and the witness who was pinned by the car were both taken to San Francisco General Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries and were treated and released.

The infamous intersection of Market and Octavia streets was part of a project completed in September 2005, which replaced the Central Freeway and Fell Street offramp. Cars heading eastbound on Market Street often enter the intersection by making an illegal right turn across the Market Street bicycle lane.

San Francisco Bicycle Coalition Program Director Andy Thornly said the intersection has been the site of “pretty much constant” reports of cyclists getting hit or cut off by drivers making illegal right turns.

After 28-year-old cyclist Margaret Timbrell was seriously injured by a pickup truck making the illegal right turn earlier this year, The City installed a row of flexible plastic barriers along the bike lane as it enters the intersection.

Police could not say Monday whether the barriers had been hit.

amartin@examiner.com

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