US cyclist could face six years in jail for killing pedestrian

Allegedly trying to beat own speed record when he ploughed into pensioner

by Sarah Barth   June 16, 2012  

Castro and Market, San Francisco (Matthew McPherson, Wikimpedia Commons)

A cyclist who was trying to break his own speed record for a stretch of road has been charged with manslaughter after he smashed into a pedestrian and killed him.

Chris Bucchere was travelling at over 35mph in a 25mph zone in San Francisco when he hit 71-year-old Sutchi Hui, who was crossing the road. He could now face up to six years in jail if found guilty.

The San Francisco Examiner reports that Bucchere has now been charged with felony vehicular manslaughter. The charge was elevated from a misdemeanor because Bucchere had allegedly violated multiple laws prior to the collision, which shows gross negligence, District Attorney George Gascón said.

Bucchere was riding with a friend from Marin County to San Francisco, and an examination of his GPS unit and CCTV from a local shop confirmed his speed before the incident. Crucial to the charges, say prosecutors, is the fact that his riding partner managed to stop without hitting anyone.

We reported a couple of months ago how Bucchere had apparently taken to the web following the crash, and sparked outrage after he described the incident and lamented the fact that his helmet had been broken.

"I was already way too committed to stop," the post, which was made by a user named ‘Bucchere Chris’ from an account linked to Mr Bucchere’s email address, said. "The light turned red as I was cruising through the middle of the intersection and then, almost instantly, the southern crosswalk on Market and Castro filled up with people coming from both directions... I couldn't see a line through the crowd and I couldn't stop, so I laid it down and just plowed through the crowded crosswalk in the least-populated place I could find."

It went on to say that the bike helmet "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."

The prosecutors say that their decision was not based on these comments, however.

Some 4,834 cyclists and 59,925 pedestrians were killed by motor vehicles in the United States between 1999 and 2009 (the most recent year for which figures are available), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cyclists killed just 63 pedestrians, or about six a year, during the same time period.

Although this type of incident is rare, it has led to calls from campaign groups to better protect pedestrians from cyclists.

9 user comments

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Sad for the person who died and I hope justice is served. The interesting thing about this article is the car/bike relative danger balance achieved by putting the statistics at the end. Perhaps the SF Examiner should be invited to give training courses to the UK press?

Paul W

posted by PaulVWatts [111 posts]
16th June 2012 - 23:27

6 Likes

what the SF Chronicle said at the end was this:
"Last year, 17 pedestrians were killed and about 800 injured during collisions with vehicles in The City."
This seems to imply that these statistics are relevant to the article at hand, when they presumably are statistics for all vehicles, motor and other.

The relative cyclist-/motor vehicle-caused stats were from _this_ article, not the SF Chronicle.

I wonder if this guy was riding a fixie w/o brakes, I noticed a prevalence of them when I was in SF in 2009 and was a bit surprised, as it is a very hilly city.

posted by durrin [16 posts]
17th June 2012 - 0:20

3 Likes

To be fair to cars, the sheer scale of car usage in the US is staggering - over 250 million registered passenger vehicles alone, 70% of Americans commute to work by car every day. Cyclists caused only less than one-thousandth of the figure for cars, but that doesn't mean cyclists are any safer, it probably just means that cycling is not as prevalent as driving.

posted by Shanghaied [41 posts]
17th June 2012 - 1:46

4 Likes

The guy is an idiot for racing through an area with lights and junctions, and has a complete lack of respect for the welfare of other road users, both during and after the even. He has as good as hung himself with such arrogance

spindoctore's picture

posted by spindoctore [49 posts]
17th June 2012 - 5:49

3 Likes

What the reports here don't really bring out is that the inciddent occurred at about 8:20 am on 29 March - a Thursday. In other words, slap in the middle of morning rush-hour. Apart from the other observations abotu whether he did or did not run red lights prior to the incident, and whether he was exceeding the speed limit at the time, what was he doing racing like this at a time when it must have been obvious that hazards would be everywhere?

It is hard to say whether he wrote the post attributed to him - some details don't tally with the witnesses and CCTV - but if he really did say his helmet saved his life, that has to be one of the best arguments I have heard for not wearing a helmet. A form of social Darwinism might then have eliminated him from the gene pool to the benefit of humanity in general.

Of course, it can probably be scientifically shown (perhaps already has) that people who believe like *rses on bikes also behave like *rses behind the wheel of a car - towards fellow cyclists too.

posted by Paul M [311 posts]
17th June 2012 - 10:04

5 Likes

San Fran is douchebagistan... it is a very sad town. Logic doesn't exist. Oxygen thieves run the town. Justice should prevail, but i have my doubts. The helmet 'eulogy' says it all... selfish, ego-centric, 'don't judge me bro!', pathetic morons... SF is a breeding ground for idiots; but with a little luck and plastic surgery, you can become the first female Speaker of the House of Representatives. Thoughts with the Hui family for their loss.

posted by dino [57 posts]
17th June 2012 - 13:47

3 Likes

If he was driving a car in the UK he'd get a £60 fine and a six month suspended sentence at the most, with lots of friends and internet posters saying the old biddy was partly responsible.

As for a campaign to protect peds from cyclists (helmets? hi-viz body armour?), let's put this in perspective. According to my local paper, at least 24 people have died falling into the river Severn in Shrewsbury since 2006, most of them people who are too drunk to walk after a night on the town.

The same newspaper states that 126 KSIs on the region's roads in the past 3 years were due to drink- or drug-driving. I very much doubt many of the culprits will have seen the inside of a prison.

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [1965 posts]
17th June 2012 - 17:44

6 Likes

Exactly. The guy deserves a prison sentence for his stupidity leading to a person losing his life. Is it too much to expect the same when motorists behave in a reckless way?

posted by paulfg42 [375 posts]
17th June 2012 - 18:34

4 Likes

Couldn't agree more - this guy sounds like a brainless gibbon and if this is all true then a jail term is well deserved.

But I can't help but notice the difference - "cyclist kills pedestrian - liable for 6 years in jail"

"car driver kills cyclist - liable for not much - the sun was in their eyes, they didn't see him (apparently a valid excuse) the cyclist shouldn't have been in their blind spot etc etc"

It amazes me, it really does. Cyclists are seen as a nuisance to be dealt with - somewhere between vermin and bad weather. Sad

posted by Lacticlegs [124 posts]
27th June 2012 - 14:48

2 Likes