Pedestrian Critically Injured at ‘Notoriously Dangerous’ Intersection

A man in his 20s was struck by a driver early Sunday morning where the city's high-injury network meets a state highway.

A 21-year-old man is in critical condition after a driver struck him on 19th Avenue near San Francisco State University early Sunday morning, police said.

The 57-year-old driver of sedan headed south around 3:15 a.m. struck the pedestrian at 19th Avenue and Junipero Serra Boulevard. The 21-year-old was transported to the hospital, where he remains with critical injuries as of Monday afternoon, and the driver remained on the scene.

The location of the crash is hardly surprising.

Both 19th Avenue and Junipero Serra Boulevard, near housing complex Parkmerced, are part of the city’s high injury network. Streets in the network make up just 13 percent of total city streets but are home to 75 percent of collisions.

“The intersection where he was hit is notoriously dangerous with fast-moving traffic,” said Walk SF Executive Director Jodie Medeiros in a statement. “It’s right in the middle of where a 65 MPH highway transitions into a neighborhood street with thousands of students attending San Francisco State University.”

It’s also a large, complex and diagonal intersection that has seven car lanes, two train crossings, and a slip lane onto 19th Avenue with no signal. Between 2014 and 2018, Junipero Serra Boulevard and 19th Avenue were home to 15 injury crashes. Two of those injured pedestrians, a 17-year-old in 2018 and 19-year-old in 2014 who survived, Walk SF notes.

It’s worse on 19th Avenue from Holloway Avenue, where San Francisco University begins, to Junipero Serra Boulevard. In the same four-year timeframe, 60 people have been injured, including six pedestrians — all either seniors or youth — and one cyclist.

19th Avenue doubles as California State Highway 1, which Caltrans oversees. Walk SF also called attention to Senate Bill 127, which would have required the state agency to consider safety elements like bike lanes for road projects, but wasn’t signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

At least one pedestrian, two drivers, and a motorcyclist have died in collisions in 2020. One of those deaths, of 30-year-old motorcyclist DeCarlis Wilson in the Mission on Jan. 26, is confirmed as a Vision Zero death, Walk SF said. Though the city’s goal is to have zero traffic fatalities on city streets by 2024, the goal seems farther away than ever. Last year saw 29 people lost to Vision Zero deaths, according to the transit agency’s preliminary count.

“Our neighborhood streets need to be treated as such: with the speed limits, traffic enforcement, and street design needed to keep everyone safe,” Medeiros added. “Our thoughts are with this young man and his family.”

UPDATE, 2/20: The family of Matt Cotton, the pedestrian who was hit, launched a GoFundMe to pay for his medical care and send him home to the United Kingdom. Cotton remains in the hospital with extensive injuries to his brain, pelvis, and broken ribs, says his aunt Jayne Griffiths. The extent of the damage is still unknown since a battle with pneumonia is delaying scans.

“His family are truly amazed daily by the amount of money we have been able to raise for Matt in a short amount of time,” Griffiths said. “It’s been a great source of comfort to read the comments being left online — often by total strangers.”

Cotton is a study abroad student at San Francisco State University from a seaside town at the English Channel in the United Kingdom. Griffiths said Cotton is an “outgoing and sociable young man with a large circle of friends and a loving family.” He plays the guitar, loves traveling and playing American football for the University of East Anglia Pirates back home.

He was set to finish his studies in creative writing and American literature in June.

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