Street cleaner fatally strikes pedestrian while driving pickup truck in Tenderloin

The case remains under investigation

A city street cleaner driving a pickup truck in the Tenderloin on Sunday morning fatally struck a 67-year-old pedestrian, authorities said.

Officers responded to the collision at Taylor and Geary streets at about 7:30 a.m., police said. The senior died after being taken to the San Francisco General Hospital with life-threatening injuries.

The driver was heading north on Taylor Street and had begun turning left onto westbound Geary Street when they struck the senior, according to police.

The Medical Examiner’s Office has since identified the senior as Rui Xai Zhen of San Francisco.

San Francisco Public Works has confirmed that the street cleaner worked for the department.

Acting Public Works Director Alaric Degrafinried issued a statement Monday expressing “profound condolences to the family and friends” of the victim.

“Her death is tragic,” Degrafinried said. “We will continue to work with police investigators on this case, as we also review our internal safe-driving procedures and training. The safety of members of the public and our employees is our No. 1 priority at Public Works.”

Police said the driver remained on scene and is cooperating with investigators.

The incident remains under investigation.

Supervisor Matt Haney and the pedestrian advocacy group Walk San Francisco called for improved street safety in the area where the collision occurred.

About two weeks before Zhen was struck, a vehicle fatally struck another senior, David Chow, six blocks away. Both collisions occurred in broad daylight while the pedestrians were walking within a crosswalk when the drivers were making turns, according to Walk SF.

The group counted four pedestrian deaths in the Tenderloin last year.

“The Tenderloin is ground zero for the traffic safety crisis on our streets,” said Jodie Medeiros, executive director of Walk SF. “It is unacceptable how dangerous it is for pedestrians in the Tenderloin. Everyone deserves to be able to cross the street safely. It’s as simple as that.”

Haney has previously spoken in support of having parts of the Tenderloin go car-free to prevent traffic fatalities.

“This is the second pedestrian death of the year and both have been Chinese seniors,” Haney said. “It’s clear that it continues to be far too dangerous and deadly for pedestrians on our streets and that there is a disproportionate impact. This is why I declared a state of emergency on street safety last year and have been pushing for sweeping changes on our streets to protect pedestrians, especially downtown.”

Haney, Walk SF and the San Francisco Bike Coalition called for a “state of emergency” last July when two pedestrians were fatally struck by traffic in four days. The resolution was passed in November by the Board of Supervisors, who hoped the declaration — while non-binding — would prompt The City and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to improve safety measures.

This story will be updated.

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