Police investigating two fatal vehicle crashes in San Francisco last weekend have a simple message for drivers: just follow the rules.
On Saturday, police said, a 38-year-old man who was legally walking across a Tenderloin street was struck and killed after a taxi driver allegedly ran a red light. The cab was reportedly struck by an oncoming car, causing the cabdriver to spin out of control. The tail of the taxi struck the 38-year-old man, police Officer Albie Esparza said. The victim, who was identified Monday by the Medical Examiner’s Office as Edmund Capalla, died later at San Francisco General Hospital, Esparza said.
An investigation into the accident was ongoing Monday, and the taxi driver had not been charged.
“We have to see if he was negligent,” Esparza said. “He may have had a medical emergency, I don’t know.”
The accident was “heartbreaking” and could have been prevented if laws had been obeyed, Esparza added.
That also might have been the case following a collision Sunday that killed a 17-year-old in Silver Terrace.
About 7 p.m., police said, the teenager was riding a dirt bike with a passenger aboard when he collided with an SUV on Thornton Avenue near Venus Street.
The teen was thrown off the motorcycle and landed atop a parked car. He was pronounced dead at the scene, Esparza said. His passenger is expected to survive.
Police have not announced what caused the accident, citing an ongoing investigation, but a neighbor said the tragedy was “bound to happen.” The motorcyclist and another youth had been driving recklessly in the neighborhood “for months,” said neighbor Jarold Hayden. The youths would run stop signs, Hayden said, and travel 50 mph in a 25 mph zone.
“I knew there was going to be an accident,” Hayden said, adding that there’s an elementary school in the neighborhood.
“At the end of the school year, I thought, ‘Man, they’re going to nail one of these kids,’” Hayden said.
Hayden said warnings to police about the teens’ alleged recklessness were for the most part ignored. But on Monday, police said there’s little officers can do if they don’t catch lawbreaking drivers in the act. Reckless drivers tend to be, like any lawbreakers, opportunistic, Esparza said.
“If they see police, obviously they aren’t going to be driving erratically,” Esparza said.
However, police encouraged residents to raise their concerns about unsafe road conditions at community meetings and with their local police stations.
The tragedy is just how preventable these fatal accidents were, Esparza said.
“In a congested city like San Francisco, everyone has to follow the rules of the road,” he said.