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Two Major Pedestrian Accidents in San Francisco Last Week

Two separate pedestrian accidents last week resulted in the death of a 91-year-old woman and head trauma and other bodily injuries for a 15-year-old boy. Both victims were hit while crossing San Francisco streets, one in Pacific Heights and the other in the Sunset district.

The first tragic accident occurred last Wednesday at the intersection of Sunset and Yorba. If this intersection rings a bell, that's because it seems to have an ever-expanding accident history. In fact, I wrote about this intersection just a couple weeks ago, when 78-year-old Isaak Berenzon was killed crossing the six lanes of Sunset. (The driver who struck Berenzon was also reportedly injured and is reportedly facing charges for misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter.)

Like Berenzon, the young victim of last week's Sunset accident was in the crosswalk when he was struck by a car. He was taken to the hospital with head trauma and lower body injuries but is expected to survive.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for an unidentified 91-year-old woman who was struck and killed by a cement truck less than 24 hours after the Sunset accident. The woman was in Pacific Heights, crossing Fillmore Street in the middle of the block north of California when she was hit. Police reportedly found that the elderly woman stepped out in front of his vehicle too suddenly for him to avoid her. My experience with 91 year old women is that they generally do not move that fast. Just because a pedestrian is crossing mid block does not excuse driver vigilence.

Of course, it goes without saying that something needs to be done with regards to that Sunset/Yorba intersection. And, as a matter of fact, something is going to be done. San Francisco has plans to install a real stoplight at that crosswalk. Actually, the city has had this plan since before either of these past two accidents, but the light was not slated to be installed for another two years. Now, apparently the process has been expedited. We should see a new stoplight within the next year.

The process simply takes too long when lives are at stake. If procurement and design truly takes that long and there is no bureaucratic delay, an interim fix should be considered by way of signing, stop signs, turning the yellow flasher into a red flasher. For starters, why not allow the pedestrian to activate a red flasher instead of a yellow--that infrastructure is already in place. Let's solve the problem now while awaiting the permanent solution.

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