‘A sad case’ comes to a close with short sentence 

A 33-year-old San Francisco woman was sentenced Monday to 120 days in county jail for allegedly driving her car into two pedestrians, killing one, after prosecutors could not prove that she drove under the influence of alcohol.

On Nov. 8 of last year, Huishao Chen left a restaurant at about 9:30 p.m., where she admitted that she had up to four shots of sake. While driving on El Camino Real near Santa Dominga Avenue in San Bruno, she allegedly struck the two pedestrians. Prosecutors said she was driving 10 mph over the speed limit.

In January, prosecutors agreed to a misdemeanor plea deal of vehicular manslaughter because they could not prove that Chen was driving drunk. Chen’s attorney, Stuart Hanlon, said prosecutors dropped felony drunken driving charges because she had a blood alcohol level of .02 within an hour after the incident, well below the legal limit.

On Monday, Chen’s jail sentence included three years of probation and $5,000 in restitution. She has already served 20 days in county jail, which would be accredited to her sentence.

The victims, a 25-year-old man and 25-year-old woman, both of San Francisco, were holding hands when they were struck. The man died while the woman sustained critical injuries, Deputy District Attorney Sheryl Wolcott said.

"The D.A. came to the conclusion that this was just a really a sad case," Hanlon said. "[Chen] lost her own son in China. To relive her own loss by seeing the suffering of people in the courtroom — she lost it."

According to Hanlon, Chen emigrated from China to the U.S. six years ago. He blamed the death on the intersection’s design, saying it is poorly lit and that five accidents have occurred there in the last two years.

Chen remains out of custody on $500,000 bail.

bfoley@examiner.com

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