Woes mount with latest S.F. Muni accident

A man hit by a T-Third train Tuesday was the fourth victim of a Muni-involved pedestrian crash in two weeks as the transit agency faces mounting legal claims that have resulted in millions of dollars in payouts this year.

The man was hit at about 12:30 p.m. as he crossed Third Street at Williams Avenue, San Francisco Municipal Railway spokesman Alan Siegel said. He was crossing against the light, Siegel said, and suffered minor injuries when the train hit him. The man was transported to San Francisco General Hospital in the fourth such Muni accident since mid-August.

On Aug. 14, 83-year-old Marina Vafiadis was hit and killed by a 28-line bus as she crossed Park Presidio at Balboa Street. On Aug. 17, a 40-year-old woman was hit and injured at 22nd Avenue and California Street. On Thursday night, 47-year-old John O’Neill was hit and killed by a J-Church train near Glen Park station.

As of last week, Muni vehicles had been involved in 956 collisions this year, 39 of which involved pedestrians and five of which were fatal, Muni spokeswomanKristen Holland said.

Tuesday’s collision came as the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency deals with a lawsuit worth as much as $2 million from the family of a woman who was hit and killed by a Muni bus earlier this year. The family of 49-year-old Xiao Feng Deng sued The City on July 9, alleging wrongful death.

During the first three months of 2007 — the latest date for which information was immediately available — the MTA doled out $2,078,470.41 in payouts for legal claims. In 2006, it paid out $12,935,927.63 in legal claims, according to the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office.

Deng was killed as she crossed Leavenworth Street on Ellis Street on her way to work on April 9. Lawrence Less, the lawyer representing Deng’s husband, two daughters and three granddaughters, said Deng had the green light to cross. He said the bus had come from behind her and turned right at the green light to head north on Leavenworth, blindsiding her.

Less did not specify what damages the plaintiffs are asking of The City, but court documents indicate the anticipated damages could be in excess of $2 million.

San Francisco City Attorney spokeswoman Alexis Thompson declined to comment as the case is ongoing.

Death by Muni

Muni drivers have hit four pedestrians in two weeks; five people have been killed by agency vehicles to date in 2007.

Jan. 11: Kenji Suzuki, 69, hit by a 22-Fillmore while crossing Fillmore Street at Geary Street

March 18: Edwardo Funes, 40, killed while walking on J-Church tracks in Dolores Park

April 3: Xiao Feng Deng, 49, killed while crossing Leavenworth Street on Ellis Street

Aug. 14: Marina Vafiadis, 84, killed while crossing Park Presidio at Balboa Street

Aug. 23: John O'Neill, 47, killed while walking on J-Church tracks near Glen Park station

amartin@examiner.com

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