Newspaper seller hurt in hit-and-run

A venerable San Francisco newspaper vendor who sold The Examiner for most of his 35-year career was in critical condition Tuesday after a hit-and-run driver ran him down in a crosswalk as he started his work day, police said.

Korean War veteran Richard Brielh, 77, has sold newspapers from kiosks, first downtown and then in the Nob Hill area, for more than three decades, said Jack Albrecht, secretary-treasurer of Vendors Local 468, which represents kiosk vendors. Brielh moved from his long-time position at Polk and Sacramento streets to the Cala Foods parking lot at Hyde and California streets last year, a colleague said.

At about 5:45 a.m. Tuesday, Brielh was crossing California Street at Hyde Street near his kiosk when he was hit by a car described as either a gray Nissan or a blue Toyota, San Francisco police Sgt. Neville Gittens said.

Gittens said Brielh went up onto the car and was carried about 25 feet on the hood before the car stopped and he fell off. The car continued east on California Street. Brielh was taken to San Francisco General Hospital, where he was listed in critical condition Tuesday evening.

“He is a very generous person. A hard-working guy,” said Jack Trad, judge advocate for American Legion Post 40, where Brielh was a lifetime member. Brielh, who lived alone in an apartment on Polk Street, madethe rank of commander at the post before he stopped being active last year.

Brielh sold The Examiner for most of his career, Albrecht said, and in recent years he contracted with another Bay Area newspaper.

While statistics documenting hit-and-run crashes were not immediately available Tuesday, police reported recently that 16 pedestrians were killed in 2006, up from 14 in 2005.

According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, San Francisco ranks first in the state for pedestrian injuries and deaths among 13 cities of comparable size. The City ranks first in crashes involving pedestrians over 65 years old and first in nighttime collisions, the office reported.

Police are requesting that anyone with information call Inspector Richard Struckman at (415) 553-1541, or the department’s confidential tip line at(415) 575-4444.

amartin@examiner.com

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