Chris Bucchere has been cycling all his life and even taught classes in bicycle safety. That’s why, his defense attorney said Thursday, Bucchere would not have violated any road rules last year when he struck and killed a pedestrian in the Castro district.
But prosecutors countered that the San Franciscan’s extensive cycling history — along with a callous act right after the collision in which he mourned his helmet in an Internet forum — is further proof the 36-year-old software engineer should face a felony charge for the death of 71-year-old Sutchi Hui.
“The fact that he is an experienced cyclist I find more worrisome,” Assistant District Attorney Omid Talai argued during Thursday’s preliminary hearing.
Judge Andrew Cheng ordered Bucchere to stand trial on one count of felony vehicular manslaughter in connection with the March 29 rush-hour collision at Castro and Market streets that killed 71-year-old Sutchi Hui.
However, Chang also said he hoped prosecutors and defense attorneys will reach a settlement to avoid a heart-wrenching trial. The settlement, he said, should recognize the severity of the case and take into account that Bucchere is a family man with an otherwise clean record.
The collision occurred about 8 a.m. when Hui was crossing Market Street. Three witnesses have testified that Bucchere ran a red light while riding southbound on Castro Street and did not slow down when he struck Hui.
Video surveillance captured the collision, and it helps prove Bucchere’s gross negligence, prosecutors said.
“He was going incredibly fast,” witness Wen-Chih Yu testified Wednesday.
But on Thursday, defense attorney Ted Cassman said the video proves Bucchere was in the intersection before the light turned red. He also said it showed that pedestrians had entered the crosswalk “too soon.”
Cassman called Bucchere a “good man” who called to check on Hui’s health daily. Hui died from head trauma four days after the collision.
Bucchere sobbed during the hearing. However, Talai told the judge about a post Bucchere reportedly wrote in a Mission Cycling AM Google group right after the collision:
“In closing, I want to dedicate this story to my late helmet. She died in heroic fashion today as my head slammed into the tarmac... may she die knowing that because she committed the ultimate sacrifice, her rider can live on and ride on. Can I get an amen? Amen.”
In the same post he also said about Hui, “I really hope he ends up OK.”