SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – The attorney for a San Francisco Municipal Railway bus driver accused of hitting and killing a pedestrian in the city’s Castro District in August said Thursday morning that Muni officials are to blame for the death because they put an inexperienced driver on a new route.
Wallace Loggins, 36, was charged last month with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter in connection with the death of 23-year-old Emily Dunn, who was struck while walking in a crosswalk at 18th and Hartford streets on Aug. 19. He has pleaded not guilty.
Loggins was driving a shuttle bus for the F-Market & Wharves streetcar line and was turning left onto Hartford Street when he struck Dunn, who was about 90 percent of the way across the street when she was hit, police said.
Prosecutors said Loggins was unaware that he had hit someone until he heard a bystander scream.
District attorney’s office spokesman Omid Talai said when charges were filed in the case last month that Loggins was “negligent” in operating the bus.
However, Loggins’ defense attorney Stuart Hanlon said outside of court Thursday that personnel at Muni’s operations center were negligent when they sent a driver with just eight months of experience on a new route.
Hanlon said Loggins was lost and driving on a narrow street that was not part of the normal route.
“Mr. Loggins did everything he could,” Hanlon said. “They didn’t give directions.”
He said, “They’re supposed to tell young drivers how to get there.”
Hanlon said he plans to call various Muni officials to the witness stand during the trial, which he said could start as soon as May.
Muni spokesman Paul Rose said Thursday that he could not comment on pending litigation involving the agency.
Hanlon also said that Dunn was texting and had her head down when she was struck.
“It’s an awful accident,” he said. “I have no idea why they’re prosecuting this.”
Loggins, who appeared in court Thursday for a pre-trial hearing in the case, is still employed by the agency but is on paid leave.
He will next return to court on March 7 for a status hearing on evidence in the case.
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