A 67-year-old woman was killed after being struck by a San Francisco Public Works vehicle Sunday morning in the Tenderloin, according to police.
“We believe that a DPW vehicle was travelling on Taylor Street and was maneuvering to make a turn onto Geary Street when it made contact with a pedestrian,” says Officer Robert Rueca, a San Francisco Police Department spokesperson. The public works employee remained on scene and is cooperating with an ongoing investigation, Rueca says.
The woman, identified by the Medical Examiner’s office as 67-year-old Rui Xia Zhen, was transported to San Francisco General Hospital with life threatening injuries where she later died, says Rachel Gordon, a public works spokesperson.
Gordon says the driver was part of a street cleaning crew and driving a department pickup truck.
“We will continue to work with police investigators on this case, as we also review our internal safe-driving procedures and training,” Alaric Degrafinried, acting director of public works, said in a statement.
While SFPD takes the lead investigating public works vehicle collisions, public works will also look into the employee’s record and determine if their training was up-to-date, or if there were any past incidents, Gordon says.
Rueca says the death is the third pedestrian fatality of 2020. Last month, 80-year-old David Chow was also killed in the Tenderloin, just six blocks away. It was not clear who the second pedestrian fatality was or the circumstances of their death, and SFPD was not immediately able to provide a list of cases.
“The Tenderloin is ground zero for the traffic safety crisis on our streets,” says Jodie Medeiros, executive director of Walk SF, a pedestrian advocacy group, which has called on SFPD to step up enforcement of dangerous driving.
In 2019, four of the 18 pedestrian deaths in San Francisco were people who were struck and killed in the Tenderloin. Last month, between Feb. 9 and Feb. 15, five other pedestrians were struck in three separate incidents, with four of them facing life threatening injuries.
San Francisco established the Vision Zero project in 2014 with the goal of eliminating all traffic fatalities by 2024. There were 29 traffic-related deaths in 2019, including 18 pedestrians (an official count doesn’t include two pedestrians who were killed on highways under Caltrans jurisdiction). That’s a downgrade from 2018 (23 deaths) and 2017 (20 deaths).
Last year got bad enough that the Board of Supervisors declared a state of emergency concerning the situation in November.