14-year-old girl dies after being struck by car near Lake Merced

Madlen Koteva (Courtesy Photo)

A 14-year-old girl who was struck by a driver in mid-March on John Muir Drive near Lake Merced succumbed to her injuries last month.

Madlen Koteva died March 25, according to her obituary at Sullivan’s Funeral Home.

Her death was revealed this week after a memorial was held Tuesday morning. Her family, friends and community in San Francisco mourned her loss on a GoFundMe page for hospital expenses started by Madlen’s brother, Krasimir Kotev.

“Unfortunately Madlen passed away today,” Kotev wrote. “All of our love and prayers are with her.”

That GoFundMe had raised $41,000 for the family’s medical costs as of Tuesday afternoon.

Madlen Koteva arrived with her family five years ago from Bulgaria, according to Bulgarian press. Koteva and her mother were walking their dog near Lake Merced on the evening of March 15 when a driver struck both in the crosswalk with a Mercedes.

Her death comes on the heels of a major push for pedestrian safety in San Francisco. At the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors meeting on Tuesday, the same day as Koteva’s memorial, the agency announced a new effort to make The City’s ten most dangerous streets safer to walk and bike by the end of 2019. The effort will include street engineering efforts widen sidewalks, add features to make crosswalks more visible and create bike lanes with barriers to keep cars away from people riding bikes.

At the Board of Supervisors regular meeting Tuesday, Board President Norman Yee said he attended Koteva’s memorial.

“No parent should ever have to bury a child,” he said. “We cannot rest until we make our streets safe.”

Jodie Medeiros, executive director of advocacy group Walk San Francisco, lamented the loss of another pedestrian life on San Francisco’s streets.

“We grieve for Madlen and her family,” Medeiros said, in a statement. “The word ‘tragedy’ is inadequate when we lose a child to traffic violence, and the loss of Madlen should compel all of us to demand safe speeds and street designs that keep pedestrians safe.”

Madlen played soccer with former police commissioner Suzy Loftus’ eldest daughter on an all-girl youth team called the West Side Waves. Madlen’s team showed up at the memorial in their soccer jerseys, Loftus told the San Francisco Examiner.

“She was a kid who was lit from the inside. She was always smiling. And she was the nicest kid any of us have ever met,” Loftus said, through tears. “I loved watching her play soccer. She was all heart.”

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