Man allegedly downs vodka, plows down pedestrians with minivan 

A South San Francisco man had allegedly downed two bottles of vodka at home early Saturday night before he got behind the wheel of his minivan and struck and injured a young couple chasing their dog across the street, prosecutors said.

Richard Joseph Cronin, 53, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to multiple felony DUI charges following Saturday’s horrific hell-drive that caused a couple in their 20s to “fly up in the air,” according to San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.

According to South San Francisco police, Cronin fled after striking the pedestrians, a 21-year-old woman and her 23-year-old boyfriend, on Radburn Drive in South San Francisco around 6:10 p.m.

A friend of the victim called 911. The pedestrians’ injuries included spinal chord damage and a broken hip, Wagstaffe said.

The minivan rampage continued up the street, police said. As Cronin allegedly fled on Gellert Avenue, his minivan struck a car at the intersection of Marbella Street, Wagstaffe said.

There was a red light, but Cronin “did not brake or slow down and slammed into rear of his car, injuring a passenger,” he said.

The passenger suffered bruising and pain.

Cronin again fled the crash scene, authorities said. However, the minivan was badly damaged, and so Cronin allegedly abandoned it in the parking lot Westborough Square Shopping Center in Daly City.

Cops found him hiding in bushes, Wagstaffe said.

His blood alcohol level tested at .21 percent, police said.

Cronin’s case was set for preliminary hearing on Feb. 28. He faces enhanced penalties for having been convicted within the last 10 years of DUI causing injury, Wagstaffe said.

On Tuesday, his bail was increased from $100,000 to $250,000. He remains in custody.

maldax@sfexaminer.com

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