Family files lawsuit against SamTrans in mom’s death

The family of a woman fatally struck by a bus in a Daly City crosswalk last year has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the San Mateo County Transit District and the driver at the wheel.

The family accuses SamTrans officials of negligence in the hiring of Juan Ignacio Perales — a man they claim had a poor driving record and a lack of familiarity with the bus and the route, according to the April 4 filing in San Mateo County Superior Court.

The lawsuit stems from a Nov. 19 incident in which 50-year-old Amy Aiwa Leong Chan was struck as she used a crosswalk at the intersection where Mission Street, John Daly Boulevard and Hillside Boulevard meet.

The bus ran over Chan’s leg, and at the time police said it appeared she would survive. But Chan died 10 days later from massive brain damage suffered in the accident, according to her family.

Chan’s family — husband, Cheuck Fai Chan; daughter, Serena Chan; son, Jefferson Chan; and mother, Sylvia Leong — are represented in the lawsuit by San Francisco attorney Joseph Nierenberg. On Tuesday, Nierenberg declined to elaborate on details of the lawsuit but said the Chans are still grieving.

They are suing for burial expenses as well as punitive damages.

Driver Perales, a 38-year-old Hayward resident who is also named in the suit, never faced criminal charges in connection with the crash.

Deputy District Attorney Morley Pitt said the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Transit Police referred the case to the office last month as a possible reckless-driving matter.

Prosecutors reviewed the results of the investigation but declined to pursue an indictment based on evidence that Perales simply wasn’t able to see Chan.

“There was glare on the passenger side window and his line of sight was obscured by a door frame and part of the bus,” Pitt said.

One passenger on the bus said Chan ran suddenly into its path, while another said she was walking at a normal pace, he said.

SamTrans spokeswoman Christine Dunn on Wednesday said that she could not comment on the lawsuit but that Perales no longer works for the transit district.

From the beginning, Chan’s family struggled with the fact that she was killed in a crosswalk.

“It was an accident that should not have happened and because it did, we have lost a wonderful, warm, caring person,” her relative Jennie Leong said last year.

tbarak@examiner.com

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