Lawyer: SF Cyclist ‘Devastated’ Over Fatal Crash, Bicycle Groups Weigh In

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A bicyclist who allegedly fatally struck a pedestrian in San Francisco’s Castro District last week is “devastated by the accident” but believes he entered the intersection lawfully, his attorney said Friday.

Chris Bucchere allegedly struck 71-year-old Sutchi Hui at Market and Castro streets shortly before 8:10 a.m. on March 29. Witnesses reported that Bucchere, who was traveling south on Castro Street, might have run a red light before striking Hui, according to police.

Hui, who was walking east in the crosswalk at the time of the collision, died Tuesday in the hospital, police said.

Attorney Ted Cassman said Bucchere, who was also injured in the accident, gave a statement to police while he was still in the hospital and is cooperating fully with their investigation.

“Chris believes he entered the intersection lawfully and that he did everything possible to avoid the accident,” said Cassman. “His heart goes out to Mr. Hui’s wife and family for their loss.”

The medical examiner’s office has not yet determined the cause of Hui’s death and no charges have been filed against Bucchere pending the outcome of an investigation, according to police and prosecutors.

Later on the day of the collision, someone using the name Chris Bucchere posted a message about the accident on an online forum for Mission Cycling, a local cycling group.

“The light turned yellow as I was approaching the intersection, but I was already way too committed to stop,” the post stated.

“The light turned red as I was cruising through the middle of the intersection and then, almost instantly, the southern crosswalk on Market and Castro filled up with people coming from both directions,” it continued.

“I really hope Hui ends up OK,” he wrote.

However, he wrote that the moral of the story of his collision was the importance of wearing a helmet, eliciting critical comments from other members of the forum.

Following reports about Bucchere’s online comments, San Francisco Bicycle Coalition officials released a statement saying that they were “deeply troubled” by the account of the incident.

Leah Shahum, the coalition’s executive director, said the growing number of people riding bicycles in San Francisco “must follow the rules of the road.”

“As advocates working for safer streets, we condemn reckless behavior—whether on a bicycle or in a car,” Shahum said. “Those who put others in danger should be held accountable for their actions.”

Mission Cycling also posted a statement Thursday on its website, noting that Bucchere is not a member of the group and was riding alone at the time of the crash.

“We were shocked to learn not only that this accident occurred but also by the rider’s response to it in the post,” the statement said. “His reckless riding on that day is completely antithetical to the way we go about our sport.”

The posts on the forum have since been hidden from public view. Bucchere’s Twitter and LinkedIn accounts were also deleted this week, although a CrunchBase profile remains listing him as an entrepreneur, software developer and founder and CEO of Social Collective, Inc.

The district attorney’s office is aware of the forum posts and is working with police on the investigation, according to spokeswoman Stephanie Ong Stillman.

“We take pedestrian traffic fatalities very seriously,” Stillman said. “There are many witnesses who have come forward, so there is a lot of evidence that we still need to review.”

The district attorney’s office recently wrapped up a similar case involving a bicyclist who fatally struck a pedestrian.

Randolph Ang pleaded guilty last month to vehicular manslaughter after running a red light and striking a 68-year-old woman at the intersection of Mission Street and The Embarcadero on July 15, 2011.

The woman, Dionette “Didi” Cherney, later died at a hospital.

Ang, 23, was sentenced to three years’ probation, as well as 500 hours of community service and was ordered to pay restitution to Cherney’s family.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • AgentG

    A basic analysis of the physics of motion will disprove the assertion by Bucchere and his attorney. Simply put, pedestrians cannot appear that suddenly in the street. The bicycle rider’s actions are clearly unlawful and reckless. He should face charges beyond involutary manslaughter because he made a calculated, rational, and voluntary decision not to slow down and risk serious injury or death of a pedestrian. His own account says that he was already in the intersection when the light turned red, so he must have gunned for yellow, which is illegal and reckless in this topography.

    • dubbedscene

      I completely agree with AgentG. Clearly Bucchere didn’t care or else he would have stop to see who he unlawfully and carelessly knock over with his speeding bike.

  • Angel

    The cyclist, Chris Bucchere is from Virginia and he is allegedly smart enough to own a company and he doesn’t have enough intelligence or judgement to know the busiest crosswalks in San Francisco are full of pedestrians. I think he had specific intent to harm with no compassion or respect for human life. In his writings he makes a joke about incident and talks more about his beloved helmet. He is obviously guilty like the other cyclist who killed a 68yr old but the district attorney seems to be afraid to charge Chris because he is an entrepreneur. He only killed an old man, right? Maybe Chris Bucchere wants fame. Cyclists are extremely aggressive and this is part of their culture. They view it as like “a rush” to risk other’s lives including their own. And now I see Chris’ lawyer twists the story to make it sound like ‘Chris is devasted’ when in fact Chris wrote about being glad the “RIVER of blood” was not his and he was more distraught about his helmet, “that may she die knowing that because she committed the ultimate sacrifice, her rider and live and ride on. Can I get an amen? Amen”. Now when you read that does this sound like he is distraught? The answer is ‘no’. And it doesn’t matter anyway because if he was charged he would only get a slap on the hand. … burn in hell Chris Bucchere. You need to pay the family a million dollars at the least.

  • Ellen

    If he was traveling south on Castro through a yellow light, he was traveling downhill at lightening speed- if the light changed mid-way through and people started to cross en-mass without looking- I can’t imagine how he could stop. The comment about bicyclists being aggressive and aggression being part of cycling culture is a generic comment. There are many different kinds of people riding bikes in S.F.- I used to commute to work in S.F. for over a decade and was not aggressive and had many friends who rode in the city who were not aggressive riders as well.

    • ron

      I would NOT be traveling down Castro at “lightening” speed in a car or a bike. Its reckless and irresponsible. On the other hand I would not step out into a crosswalk without looking both ways. But sometimes a cyclist is hard to see and people may not see him. Some people on bicycles seem to think the rules of the road are meant mainly for car drivers. I rarely see them stop at stop signs..usually plowing right through unless there is cross traffic. Apparently he is one of them.

    • Bill

      Today I drove from 41st Ave down to The Great on Lincoln Ave and saw 4 or 5 different bicyclists all of whom had one thing in common….none of them stopped at any of the stop signs in their path. The only one stopped at a stop light at the Great was cut off because of heavy cross traffic and had no choice. From my observations of bicyclists in SF they ALL believe that they do not have to obey traffic laws.

  • Left Coast Chuck

    Three years probation, 500 hours of community service and restitution in an unnamed amount doesn’t sound like a fit punishment for vehicular manslaughter to me. How about three years in prison, revocation of driving privilege until restitution is complete and $500,000 restitution? I think for any vehicular manslaughter conviction a prison term is indicated. The sentence handed down is a joke.

    • Raymond

      I agree, it was stupid to give him probatiom and community service after he decided to run the red light and killing someone. The people who did this should step down and look for another line of work. They just encourage the cyclists to disreguard the traffic rules that most of them already do. It’s like no big deal not to follow the rules and get someone killed because of their stupidity by birth or by choice. The fines for these violations should be much more than what the laws state today/

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  • jeff

    Sounds like a confession to me. Doesn’t way-too-committed-to-stop simply mean speeding? You’re never supposed to be going too fast to be able to safely come to a stop before hitting anything in front of you.

  • Bill Lazzarini

    Even if he did enter the intersection legally he still killed someone, guilty. His lack of remorse is what makes me want to kick his azz, feel free to look me up, I am available all day!

  • Stan

    From a previous post: “Doesn’t way-too-committed-to-stop simply mean speeding?”
    No. It means you don’t have the stopping distance to come to a stop before crossing the limit line. At 20 m.p.h. this is about 40 feet for a car. On a bicycle, the stopping distance can be longer due to the higher center of mass (you’ll generally flip before your front tire skids). Going down hill also adds to the stopping distance. With an intersection something like 110 feet from limit line to limit line (measured on Google maps), this means you have 150 feet or more to cross before clearing the far end of the intersection. Since stopping in the middle of an intersection is very dangerous, generally you try and keep your speed up close to the speed limit (whether in a car or on a bike) and hope the traffic engineering for the signal timing allows you to get safely through the intersection. The signal timing is usually calculated for cars, which can make things difficult for bikes. If you are going 15 m.p.h. it takes about 6.8 seconds from the committed point until you are clear of the far cross walk for this somewhat long intersection. A green light or “walk” signal only means you can go if it is safe – the traffic already in the intersection still has the right of way. That said, you also are obligated (morally and legally) to avoid an accident, even if you have the right of way. I have had difficulty at poorly timed intersections (in a car, on a bike and on foot) where someone jumped out on their green and cause me some difficult maneuvering to avoid an accident. I’ve seen this with cars, bikes and pedestrians jumping out on a green before the intersection is clear. So I can understand how this accident could happen without any fault of Chris Bucchere and where he had little, if any, options to avoid a crash. On the other hand, if he had stopping time and distance before crossing the limit line, he should have stopped.

    Having ridden on roadways where bicycling children have been killed when they were not wearing helmets, I applaud Chris’s desire to reinforce helmet use (given that at the time he wrote about it he did not know that the pedestrian had been fatally injured). Subsequently, with the pedestrian fatality, it comes across as callous. But I believe it is an important and well intended message.

    We should be less quick to jump to judgement and hope that the police have sufficiently good evidence to do their job. Meanwhile, being a bit more attentive at intersections would serve everyone well.

  • Jeff Stone

    Does this individual realize he’s admitting guilt?
    Who can’t see his lawyers are not properly advising him, defending allowing him to speak to the police…already stating, “before I got to the intersection, the light was yellow”…Right…and yellow means slow down, and what happens after it turns yellow???? He’s going to jail, deservedly.

  • San Frannie

    He is a piece of dung. What he’s remorseful about is that this situation is impacting his life. Obviously, if he was concerned about other people, he would have dumped his bike before barreling into a guy in the crosswalk.

  • San N

    After all the analysis, what is the bottom line. He was riding the bike. He hit a pedestrian which lead to death. I mean get real red yellow whatever someone died. It was his fault. However, do I want to see this guy in jail? Absolutely not….. It would be a waste of taxpayer money and I think he would want to get on with his life.

  • T.F.

    The law needs to make an example out of this guy. This is manslaughter. He was negligent. If it was a car that barreled through the intersection at 35 and killed a a pedestrian or even a cyclist, there would be no question that the finger would be pointed at the driver. This favoritism is sickening. People who defend the cyclist need to get slapped.

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    Lawyer: SF Cyclist ‘Devastated’ Over Fatal Crash, Bicycle Groups Weigh In « CBS San Francisco

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