Widow of popular Bay Area reporter poised to receive $900,000 for 2009 fatal Muni accident 

click to enlarge An N-Judah operator failed to stop for journalist Bill Brand as he walked in a crosswalk in 2009, fatally striking the writer. - S.F. EXAMINER FILE PHOTO
  • S.F. Examiner File Photo
  • An N-Judah operator failed to stop for journalist Bill Brand as he walked in a crosswalk in 2009, fatally striking the writer.

The widow of a well-known local journalist is poised to receive one of the largest settlements Muni has issued in the past two years.

Today, the agency’s board of directors is expected to discuss in a closed-door session whether to approve a $900,000 payout for the wife of Bill Brand, who died in 2009 after being hit by a train near AT&T Park.

Brand, a former reporter for the Oakland Tribune who was known nationally for his beer column, was struck by an N-Judah light-rail vehicle at Second and King streets Feb. 8, 2009. He died in the hospital nearly two weeks later.

Brand’s widow, Daryl Brand, filed a lawsuit against the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which operates Muni, on March 16, 2010. According to the suit, Bill Brand was walking southbound through a crosswalk at Second and King streets at the time of the collision. The operator of the N-Judah train, Anthony Harge, saw Bill Brand and believed that he was planning to yield to the oncoming vehicle. Instead of stopping for the pedestrian, Harge powered the train through the intersection, striking Bill Brand forcefully enough to send him crashing into a nearby light pole.

Along with the operator error, the lawsuit stated that the tracks, signals and signage near that intersection were not maintained and were in dangerous condition.

Harry Stern, Daryl Brand’s attorney, could not be reached Monday for comment on the lawsuit. The Police Department does not release vehicle accident reports to the public, according to Sgt. Carlos Manfredi. Muni spokesman Paul Rose said Harge no longer works for the agency.

Bill Brand was a reporter in the Bay Area for more than 30 years, and his “What’s On Tap” blog was read by beer aficionados nationwide. On the night of the accident, he had been returning from a beer-and-food-pairing session at the 21st Amendment Brewery. He was in a coma for 12 days before dying.

If approved by the board of directors today, the $900,000 settlement would bring the amount the agency has paid out in accident-related incidents in the past two years to $17 million.


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Will Reisman

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