San Francisco Bicyclist Charged With Vehicular Homicide

San Francisco prosecutors have brought relatively rare felony vehicular manslaughter charges against a bicyclist who allegedly hit and killed an elderly man, 71-year-old Sutchi Hui in a crosswalk. Chris Bucchere, 36, allegedly ran a red traffic light before hitting Hui who died later of his injuries. His trial could feature a highly inadvisable blog posting that he allegedly published after the fatal accident — bemoaning the loss of his helmet.

Bucchere was viewed as reckless in biking at high speed down Divisadero Street and then entering the intersection on a yellow light. Witnesses said that they saw him running both red and yellow lights before the accident. The tracker on his bike showed him going 35 miles per hour. That is actually ten mph over the posted speed limit for cars. His ride was also captured on security cameras — giving the prosecutors a remarkably strong evidentiary case with a variety of different forms of evidence from witnesses to his own speedometer to video.

To make matters worse, Bucchere reportedly appeared on the website of local bicycling group discussing the crash – never a good idea for a criminal defendant:

The light turned yellow as I was approaching the intersection, but I was already way too committed to stop. 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…I couldn’t see a line through the crowd and I couldn’t stop, so I laid it down and just plowed through the crowded crosswalk in the least-populated place I could find.
I remember seeing a RIVER of blood on the asphalt, but it wasn’t mine. I really hope he ends up OK.

He then reportedly dedicates the post to his now-broken helmet, the author wrote, “may she die knowing that because she committed the ultimate sacrifice, her rider and live and ride on. Can I get an amen? Amen.” I have more of an “Oh God” than an “Amen” to offer. If Bucchere did write that entry, he rivals Jerry Sandusky in dumb public statements.

Beside the callous aspects of the posting, Bucchere seems to acknowledge that he was going too fast to control his bike or protect pedestrians. His sense of loss over his helmet may fade in time as he faces up to 16 months in prison.

Source: SF Gate

38 thoughts on “San Francisco Bicyclist Charged With Vehicular Homicide”

  1. You are my breathing in, I possess few blogs and often run out from brand :). “‘Tis the most tender part of love, each other to forgive.” by John Sheffield.

  2. To those of you who are accussing the cyclist of hit and run, I can only presume that you all missed the article(s) where it was made clear that he was knocked out and transported to the hospital himself. How is that “leaving the scene of a crash?” Also if I am not mistaken the blood he saw was his own.

    To the person who posted about not having to leave space whn a cyclist is in a bike lane you are wrong.

    Also it is my understanding that in Ca a bicycle is NOT considered as a vehicle so the charge is wrong. Also how many drivers of cars are so charged?

  3. This is really odd. The entire GW 1L class last fall wrote a memo regarding the applicability of California’s traffic laws to riders/drivers of forms of transportation that may or may not be vehicles. The law regarding bikes in California was statutorily clear until a void-for-vagueness challenge succeeded in defeating some of the applicability of traffic laws to bikes. Don’t know how/if that might apply here. See Clingenpeel.

  4. This guy needs to be dealt with as though he were an automobile. He caused someone’s death by his wrecklessness. This reminds me of the bicyclist who violated the law by bicycling across the Quad at the University of Illinois and struck a pedestrian, shattering both of the pedestrian’s legs. That bicyclist was cited under Illinois’ motor vehicle code for operating his bicycle in a pedestrian only area. If you ride your bicycle in the manner of an automobile, then you should be held just as liable as if you had those 2 or more tons underneath you. As for his helmet, I’m sure that it may have prevented him some measure of injury, but to be so smugly sentimental about it, he needs to clam up as long as his case is pending.

  5. I got a speeding ticket because I was driving a Camaro in California with Oregon license plates. Most of the time I didn’t get tickets. No offense.

  6. Malisha,

    Since when is there a “sting?” What does “sting” mean? People who think they’re “stinging” might not be as intelligent as they think they are.

  7. In our state, with a few exceptions generally related to the mechanics of bicycle riding, bicycles are subject to the same laws as vehicles. The fines for the infractions are lower, but they are still applicable. There is no difference between a misdemeanor or felony violations nvolving bicycles or vehicles unless mentioned implicitly. I have arrested bicyclists for reckless driving and attempting to elude a pursuing police vehicle but this is rare.

    I will say from experience that if it is just a case of a child not using hand signals or something of similar nature, 99.999% of officers will ignore it. I have noticed that as the traffic density of a location increases, the more bicycle violations become hazardous. For some reason in this environment, a few cyclists become more arrogant and have this sense of entitlement on the road, almost to a defiance. This seems to coincide with reasonable cyclists being injured by careless motorists. If the police ignore the flagrant violations by the careless cyclists, it only encourages more misbehavior by them and creates a situation that fosters collisions.

    Moreover, police administrators tend to get cold feet when their subordinates actively enforce bicycle and pedestrian laws. It is viewed as being “Chippy” and admins fear the public accusing them of being heavy handed. The worst situation I witnessed in this was a collision that happened in the city and I responded out there to assist. A pedestrian wearing all dark clothing, on a dark, moonless night, in a wheelchair, crossed mid block in a dark, area without a streetlight. A car came by and the pedestrian in the wheelchair darted out and was struck by the car, who’s driver had braked and swerved but just clipped the chair.

    The city officer asked me what I would do. I recommended he charge the pedestrian with Jaywalking resulting in collision. I told him I know this sounds cold hearted but the pedestrian was 100% at fault and he should be cited. Plus, that was the violation. His chief veto’ed him on issuing the Notice of Infraction. Two weeks later the pedestrian sued the driver for the collision even though the driver of the car was not at all at fault. But since the pedestrian was not cited, it opened the floodgates to the car driver being sued.

  8. Bettykath, I’m very interested in that; gonna do a little research on it.

    It is probably not unusual that a judge takes action in a case that doesn’t exist. I had an idea once, however, to try to flip that coin. To have a family that had honestly broken up because of a real abuse situation, but a family that actually knew what had happened and all parties ADMITTED IT, go through the whole family court situation just to see how their case would turn out if it WERE in the family courts, just to see.

    And then to vacate it at the end because it would have been brought under the divorce statutes when in fact there was no divorce to which jurisdiction could attach. It was a fantasy of mine from long ago. It could never be done, of course, because the parties involved would all be prosecuted once the courts realized there had been a “sting.”

  9. Stay off the streetcars. They run too close together. You might get knocked off. If you’re on the wrong side, you might get knocked off. Just saying.

  10. Gene,
    I was amazed at how many single speed bikes I saw in San Francisco. I don’t know how they handle the hills with just one speed!

  11. Bicycle messengers I’ve been on Market Street. Ride the BART train instead. Was it an accident?

  12. This is way OT but I would like to see comments from the legal beagles. If considered worthy, maybe a spot of its own?

    Judge Ricardo Urbina, who recently announced his intention to retire from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia next year, made judicial history when he filed his decision in a case that never existed.

    The case. Hurley v. Heilig, was never filed, according to John Edward Hurley, the supposed plaintiff in the lawsuit. Moreover, Hurley said, he has never appeared before Judge Urbina in any case. He did say, however, that Judge Urbina had been involved in another lawsuit where the Judge Urbina had filed an unsigned court order against him in a D.C. Superior Court case (CA 5211-88), when he had also never appeared before him.

    1. Pete,

      So that was you? Geez, I thought I recognized the Don Rickles T shirt.

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