San Francisco, CA- For the first time in the state’s history a California Judge has ruled that a bicyclist, who once rode on Stanford cycling team, with a felony charge of vehicular manslaughter after he struck and killed a pedestrian.
Last March, the bicyclist Christopher Bucchere allegedly ran a red-light and struck 71 year-old pedestrian Sutchi Hui as he stepped into an intersection to cross the street with his wife the Castro district of San Francisco. Hui was knocked down and died of severe head injuries four days following the accident, according to Bicycling Retailer.
Using calculations based on traffic cameras and red-light timing, accident reconstruction experts testified that Bucchere was traveling at 32 miles. Bucchere, like other bicyclists, used a social fitness site called Strava.com, where he clocked his speed at 35 miles per hour. His defense attorney Ted Cassman said Strava incorrectly recorded Bucchere’s time.
Witnesses and investigators also testified that Bucchere ran two red lights and a stop sign prior to the accident, Bloomberg reported.
Prosecutors showed traffic camera footage that showed Bucchere had not slowed prior to colliding with Hui, but Bucchere’s defense attorney argued that Hui stepped into the intersection before the pedestrian walk light went on, and asked his clients charge be reduced to a misdemeanor.
After hearing testimony, Superior Court Judge Andrew Cheng decided that Bucchere, a Stanford-educated technology consultant would face felony manslaughter charges. If he is convicted he could serve up to six years in jail.
District Attorney George Gascon told LA Times.com, “I hope this case serves as a reminder to all that there are life-altering consequences to not following the rules of the road.”
Gascon told reporters, “It was really (Bucchere’s) need for speed. He was basically bent on beating his own record, he was bragging about it.”
Gascon said it was the first time a bicyclist has been charged with vehicular manslaughter in California. According to Bicycling Retailer, only a handful of bicyclist have face this charge nationwide. Other bicyclists including one from California have been charged with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter.
Cassman said his client was devastated by the accident and added, “He has ridden over 30,000 miles, has never been in accident, and has never hurt anyone.”
While it is unusual for a bicyclist to be charged with vehicular manslaughter, accidents among bicyclists and pedestrians are not. According to a 2009 study conducted by the Stuart Gruskin Family Foundation found that in 1,000 pedestrians were injured by bicyclists nationwide and were treated in hospitals.
While that is a small number compared to those killed or injured in motor vehicle crashes it’s important that bicyclists are aware they can cause serious harm or death to pedestrians. And this is especially true in urban areas where the numbers of pedestrians and pedecyclists are higher.
Regardless of whether serious or fatal injuries are caused by a motorist or bicyclist, those who cause harm can be charged with a crime and could be sued in a civil court.
Tags: Accident Reconstruction Experts, Bicyclist, California Judge, Camera Footage, Cassman, Castro District, Felony Charge, Fitness Site, George Gascon, La Times, Manslaughter Charges, Pedestrian Accident, Pedestrian Walk, Social Fitness, Stanford Cycling Team, Superior Court Judge, Time Witnesses, Traffic Camera, Traffic Cameras, Vehicular Manslaughter