Although the majority of the victims of Tuesday’s hit-and-run horror sustained only minor physical injuries and were released from local hospitals within hours, workers from The City’s Public Health Department will stay in touch with them for weeks to come, to offer support for unseen injuries.
Five of the victimsremained hospitalized as of Wednesday, with one in critical condition, according to San Francisco General Hospital officials. That hospital treated a total of seven victims. Those victims receiving care at other area hospitals were discharged later that day, with the majority having suffered from minor cuts and abrasions. Police booked the driver of the sport utility vehicle Wednesday on 18 counts of attempted murder.
"There are some serious injuries and most of the injuries involve broken bones, mostly long bones which are arms, legs and pelvis," Dr. Alan Gelb said of the remaining hospitalized victims. "Most of the injuries are not life-threatening. But broken bones, depending on how they’re broken, can cause problems."
The injuries included blunt-force trauma injuries with scrapes, broken bones, deep body bruises and internal bleeding, said Eileen Shields, acting spokeswoman for San Francisco General Hospital.
Of the 14 known victims treated at area hospitals, at least 10 were discharged by Tuesday evening, including two patients at San Francisco General, four patients at Saint Francis Memorial Hospital and two elderly men brought to California Pacific Medical Center. Victims’ ages ranged from 18 to 84, according to authorities.
Margaret Knudson, a trauma surgeon with San Francisco General, said the victims could experience post-traumatic stress disorder, resulting in recurring nightmares and phobias. In children the disorder can last up to one year, she said.
Shortly after the police received word that a man in a black SUV was plowing down pedestrians on the streets of San Francisco, a call was made to Charlie Mirimoto, who oversees the Department of Public Health’s Crisis Response Team Program.
Created to provide support to individuals and families affected by violence, particularly those impacted by homicide, the response team provides psychiatric services to help deal with the traumaof an event, in addition to offering any available city services needed to get the victims through what’s expected to be difficult times ahead.
"They may be traumatized, or post-traumatic stress may hit later on," Morimoto said, adding that nightmares and sleeplessness were signs of residual anguish.
Five city crisis response workers were dispatched Tuesday to San Francisco General Hospital, Morimoto said. Psychiatrists and psychiatric nurses were also sent to the Northern Police Station on Fillmore Street to offer support to the witnesses who were brought to the station for questioning.