cover-crosswalk.jpgA man suspected of killing a pedestrian in a hit-and-run accident in San Francisco’s North of Panhandle neighborhood last week made his initial appearance in court this afternoon and was ordered held on $1 million bail.

Jose Jimenez, 23, is accused of hitting James Hudson, 61, at the intersection of Masonic Avenue and Turk Boulevard at about 2:30 a.m. Friday.

Jimenez, a San Francisco sheriff’s cadet who was off-duty at the time, fled the scene and struck at least four cars parked nearby before crashing into concrete planters in front of St. Mary’s Hospital, police said.

Hudson died at the scene, and responding officers found Jimenez and arrested him on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter, hit-and-run, and driving under the influence, according to police.

Jimenez appeared in San Francisco Superior Court today but did not enter a plea. He was ordered held on $1 million bail by Judge Nancy Davis and is set to return to court on May 18, according to district attorney’s office spokesman Seth Steward.

Residents of the neighborhood where the accident happened are planning to gather Wednesday for a vigil in Hudson’s honor.

About 40 to 50 people are expected to attend the event, organized by the North of Panhandle Neighborhood Association, said association president Jarie Bolander.

After the vigil, the group will talk about how to improve safety along the Masonic Avenue corridor.

“It’ll be a discussion about ways we can accelerate handling some of the safety issues we’ve had,” Bolander said.

He said some proposals that have been discussed include having red-light cameras installed at intersections along Masonic Avenue and increasing police patrols in the area.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is holding a hearing Friday on the possible redesign of Masonic Avenue to a “boulevard” layout that would include a center median and bike lanes on each side of the street.

NOPNA conducted a survey and found that its members prefer the boulevard layout, and many of them plan on going to Friday’s hearing to express their support for the proposal, Bolander said.

“All the people in and around Masonic realize it’s a dangerous place,” he said. “It needs to be fixed to be more pedestrian-friendly.”

The redesign of the street would likely take years, which is why the association is pushing for some of the temporary measures like the red-light cameras, Bolander said.

“Masonic’s not the most dangerous street in the city, but it’s got to start somewhere,” he said. “Let’s just fix this and get moving on things … pedestrian safety and bike safety also benefit drivers.”

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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