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Hit-And-Run Prompts Crackdown On SoMa Red-Light Runners

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9-year-old Ryan White of Pennsylvania was critically injured during a hit-and-run in San Francisco following the Giants vs. Phillies game on August 4, 2011. The driver has been arrested. (CBS)

9-year-old Ryan White of Pennsylvania was critically injured during a hit-and-run in San Francisco following the Giants vs. Phillies game on August 4, 2011. The driver has been arrested. (CBS)

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SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— San Francisco police are beginning a new operation to keep the roads safe in the South of Market neighborhood where a boy was critically injured by a hit-and-run driver this week.

Lieutenant Troy Dangerfield said police will use pedestrian decoys, or officers posing as regular citizens, plainly walking on the cross-walk. The crackdown will focus on drivers who don’t yield to pedestrians and cyclists in SoMa.

KCBS’ Ted Goldberg Reports:

“There’s going to be officers stationed at certain areas. Everyday it might be a different location. It’s not some type of sting. They’re just standing there to see who runs the red light,” said Dangerfield.

Meantime, the 9-year-old boy who was injured during a hit-and-run in San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood Thursday remains in critical condition Saturday, according to a San Francisco General Hospital spokeswoman.

Ryan White’s condition is improving. No further details were released Saturday.

Hayward resident Andrew Vargas, 21, was arrested and booked into jail on suspicion of felony hit-and-run and driving under the influence in connection with the incident, police Lt. Troy Dangerfield said.

Ryan was walking ahead of a family member while crossing Mission Street around 10:30 p.m. when he was struck by a white pickup truck turning left onto Mission Street.

The truck had been driving north on New Montgomery Street, which is a one-way southbound street, police said.

Vargas allegedly didn’t stop after hitting Ryan, and continued west on Mission Street before hitting numerous other cars. He then drove onto a nearby highway, police said.

Vargas was stopped in Hayward around 11:30 p.m. after his pickup was spotted by local police.

Witnesses identified him and his truck as those involved in the hit-and-run, and a preliminary screening indicated his blood alcohol level was above the legal limit, Dangerfield said.

On average there are 800 accidents involving pedestrians in San Francisco each year.

Pedestrians and cyclists said it’s not just police—but everyone—needs to keep their eyes open when they’re on the street.

Will Lopez of San Francisco, who was walking down the street, said everyone has a story about a close call.

“Thank goodness for my awareness I was able to not get hit,” said Lopez who has been lucky so far.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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