Woman struck, dies on Geary 

A 69-year-old woman was struck and killed in a Richmond district intersection Wednesday — the first pedestrian fatality of 2007 in a city where walkers die on the streets in double digits.

Betty Ng, 69, of San Francisco, was on a morning errand at about 7:30 a.m. when she fell while crossing the intersection at 25th Avenue and Geary Boulevard. Police said Ng had the green light but that a woman driving a white Chrysler making a right turn on a red light from Geary Boulevard onto 25th Avenue failed to see Ng and struck her.

"The driver stopped on the red light and proceeded to turn and didn’t see [Ng], because she had fallen before impact," San Francisco Police Department Sgt. Steve Mannina said.

Ng, a mother of two and grandmother of three, was transported to San Francisco General Hospital, where she was pronounced dead. The incident is still under investigation and the driver has not been charged or cited, Mannina said.

Since 2000, 134 pedestrians have died after being hit by cars, according to the Department of Traffic’s Collision Report. The latest figures available, those from 2005, show 412 pedestrians suffered injuries after being struck in intersection crosswalks. And six people died on Geary Boulevard alone between 2001 and March 2005, according to the SFPD.

Betty Ng’s son Frankie was shocked Wednesday afternoon and described the situation as a "tragic freak accident." He explained how his mother, a seamstress and jewelry wholesaler, was always on the go and highly social, always sure to put her friends and family first.

"There’s a lot going on out there, and it’s the little things on the road that people get upset about — you’ll get to where you need to get to — but someone’s life? You can’t take that," Frankie Ng said.

At least five pedestrians have been struck in the last six weeks, including San Francisco school board member Norman Yee and a 70-year-old man in Japantown.

The situation is all-too familiar, said Pi Ra, pedestrian safety coordinator of the Senior Action Network.

"Visibility is the biggest problem on a busy street like Geary. We need to look at turns on red, and in this situation a curb extender would have helped," Ra said, adding that curb extenders such as the ones on Duboce Avenue provide extra visibility for drivers.

The City has taken a number of measures in the last two years to improve pedestrian safety, which have included the ticketing of speeders along The City’s major thoroughfares where accidents normally occur, the upgrading of pedestrian signs and new signal timing and countdown devices.

Michael Smith, spokesman for WalkSF, a pedestrian safety advocacy group, said many seniors also don’t have enough time to make it across the street in some of San Francisco’s busiest intersections.

"It’s a huge risk — and Geary is known to be dangerous," Smith said.

E-mail Eleni Economides at eeconomides@examiner.com.

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