Phil Matier: Elderly Advocates Upset Over Plea Deal In SF Fatal Bike Crash

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – Advocates for seniors and pedestrians have criticized the plea deal involving a bicyclist charged with fatally hitting a woman in a crosswalk near San Francisco’s Ferry building last year.

Dionette “Didi” Cherney, 68, suffered serious head trauma when 23-year-old Randolph Ang ran a red light and struck her with his bicycle on July 15, 2011 at the intersection of Mission Street and The Embarcadero. Cherney, a grandmother who was visiting from Washington D.C., died about a month later due to brain injuries.

Ang pleaded guilty Monday to vehicular manslaughter, was sentenced him to three years’ probation and ordered to complete community service and pay $15,375 in restitution to Cherney’s family.

The case brings to light the interactions that drivers cyclists and pedestrians have on city streets every day, and this had the DA’s office wondering for months how it should be treated, whether the young man should be made an example of.

They were unsure if he should be charged with a felony, as pedestrian and elderly advocates were demanding, or with a misdemeanor. Because the family of the woman who was killed felt the cyclist shouldn’t go to jail, but should instead do community service, the DA went with a misdemeanor filing.

KCBS’ Phil Matier Comments:

With only 49 square miles in the city of San Francisco, cyclists, drivers and pedestrians often have trouble navigating the relatively small city without collisions and altercations. With all of the talk of mass transit, the number of cars has continued to increase in the city over the years.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

More from Phil Matier
  • Dave

    If he was driving a car would he have gotten the same light sentence? NOT! Running a red light, vehicle or bike or pedestrian, is running a red light and should be treated exactly the same! No jail time? He will do this again and again and again!

    • Stewie

      I stand corrected if I am wrong, but I believe a person driving a car would still be charged with Vehicular manslaughter. Also, I don’t think you were there when it happened. I was and saw that kids face. I don’t think he will do this again and again. He was so shaken, I’d be surprised if he got back on a bike.

      • Mark


        Dave is absolutely right. The charge on which this self-centered, laws-are-made-for-other-people idiot was convicted is the correct one; the problem is the light sentence. He should have done at least a couple of year of JAIL TIME!

        I see bikers break this law every day, and when I point it out they flip me the bird or yell back at be like I”M the idiot. BIKERS, YOU ARE SUBJECT TO THE SAME RULES OF THE ROAD AS DRIVERS. START ACTING LIKE IT AND STOP ACTING LIKE YOU’RE SOMETHING SPECIAL (or Bob Mirkirimi)!

  • Drew

    If this had been a car on bike incident, the driver would have gotten a ticket at MOST, and a good portion of commenters on this article would have been recommending him for a medal, while blaming cyclists for everything from poor traffic habits to the heartbreak of psoriasis.

    • Drew

      meant to write that there would be way more than two comments, and that many of them would be expressing what I outlined above.

  • J Pulitzer

    “Advocates for seniors and pedestrians have criticized the plea deal involving a bicyclist …”
    That’s the story lead, but we don’t get to hear who they are, or what they said. Subpar journalism, for sure,

  • Mary

    Bicyclists are driving a vehicle, and have bicycle lanes that they are to use while adhearing to the same road laws as a motor vehicle (stopping at red lights, signaling turns, etc), yet, everyday, I see laws being broken/ignored/neglected and not enforced by SFPD. This was a tragic accident, yes, but an accident that could have been avoided if the bicyclist did not ignore the laws of the road. He should be held liable as if he were driving a motorvehicle as the rider RAN THE RED LIGHT and STRUCK THE PEDESTRIAN who was crossing appropriately. If it were a car that struck the woman there would be no question that it was vehicular manslaughter. I’m all for green transportation and getting around on a bicycle, but you have to take responsibility to be safe and follow the laws..they are there for a reason.

    • Drew

      And awaaay we go…

    • Ed

      I agree there are laws, and they are there for a reason. The problem is that there are simply way to few people to enforce them. I drive a car, and I keep as much distance from bicyclists as possible. They are good human beings. But some of them do practice nothing but dangerous lawlessness, with fatal results as in this case. Running red lights is widely practiced by car drivers (not to mention MUNI and cabs!) San Francisco needs traffic wardens on every intersection, with the power to impose stiff fines, payable immediately, up to drivers license suspension. I am also for well functioning public transport. As things are currently run at MUNI (unions), there is no improvement in sight. Cabs? The San Francisco Taxi Commission is a joke. I have had to explain to drivers how to get to my destination. On two occasions I insisted on slowing down as we went well over 40 mph. So there you have it. The only thing that appears to work is hitting people’s wallets so hard that it really badly hurts. Fine payable immediately on site. If refused to pay, charge with misdemeanor at least.

  • TheEnd

    The judge should have sentenced Ang to be a crossing guard at the same crosswalk during the morning hours of 7AM to 10AM for ONE YEAR just so that he could witness all the other bad behavior of cyclists/motorists/drivers and be part of the effort to keep pedestrians safe.

  • Joe

    This idiot, should have received 4 years prison time; just like the driver of a car would. This just encourages all bicyclists to coninue breaking the vehicle code daily and causing accidents by vehicles. Ever try a right hand turn in the City only to be hit in the rear fender by a cyclist failing to stop at the red light? In addition they carry no insurance for the damage they cause. I rode bicycles, motorcycles and vehicles all my life until becoming disabled by a Doctor running a red light in a car and me on a motorcycle. Now as a tax payer we build them bike lanes, trails, close streets and parks. I can’t even drive my van close enough to use a wheel chair. Enough is enough!

  • Stewie

    I see no one has mentioned the idiot people who cross red lights in front of bikers. I do ride my bike and there have been so many times when some idiot person looks, doesn’t see a car and crosses the red light right in front of me. I have had to slam on my brakes and skid to a stop to keep from hitting this person. If I had crashed and was fatally injured, do you think that person should do jail time? I guess that would have been my fault as well. The judge’s decision was based on comments from the lady’s family. if they can show compasion, maybe we all should take a lesson…

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