Chat might have doomed victim of UCSF shuttle bus crash

The driver of a UC San Francisco shuttle involved in a fatal crash was distracted before the accident by a conversation with the doctor who died in the collision, according to new court documents.

The driver, 64-year-old Wallace Richardson, was charged with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter, the District Attorney’s Office announced Thursday.

Richardson was behind the wheel of a shuttle bus that collided with a big-rig truck at the intersection of Octavia Boulevard and Oak Street on July 14.

As a result of the impact, 52-year-old Dr. Kevin Mack, a passenger in the shuttle bus, was thrown from the shuttle and subsequently died of his injuries.

Richardson was distracted by having a conversation with Mack moments before the tragic crash, according to witnesses at the scene.

The shuttle — which didn’t have seat belts but wasn’t required to by law — ran a red light and collided with the big-rig truck. The truck’s  driver slammed on the brakes, but could not avoid the crash.

The accident that killed Mack was the third significant crash involving UCSF vehicles in a span of nine months. After the crash, the medical institution installed safety belts in all its buses and conducted an extensive review of its shuttle operations.

Mack, an associate professor at UCSF who was based at San Francisco General Hospital, was an expert in bipolar and psychotic disorders. He is survived by his husband and two children.

Richardson turned himself in to Millbrae authorities Tuesday after an arrest warrant was issued. He was released on $10,000 bail, according to Assistant District Attorney Omid Talai of the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office. He is scheduled to be arraigned next month on charges of misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter, Talai said.

Calls to Richardson’s San Francisco home were not returned Thursday.

“This won’t reverse the pain or change the course of events of what happened,” said Dr. Amin Azzam, a former colleague of Mack’s. “But if it helps prevents other accidents, or increases safety on shuttle buses, then maybe some positive changes could ultimately come from this.”

Deadly collisions

Recent traffic-related charges in San Francisco:

Nov. 16: 23-year-old Randolph Ang is charged with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter in the death of 68-year-old Dionette Cherney. Ang allegedly ran a red light while riding his bicycle on July 15, striking and killing Cherney while she was in a crosswalk near The Embarcadero.

Jan. 14: Muni operator Wallace Loggins, 36, is charged with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter on suspicion of fatally striking Emily Dunn on Aug. 19 as she crossed a street in the Castro district.

Jan. 17: Wallace Richardson surrenders to authorities on misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter charges stemming from a July 14  accident. Richardson, a UCSF shuttle bus driver, allegedly ran a red light and collided with a big-rig truck, an accident that killed 52-year-old Kevin Mack.

Source: District Attorney’s Office

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