A bicyclist accused of striking and killing a pedestrian in San Francisco’s Castro District last year was ordered today to stand trial on a felony vehicular manslaughter charge.
Chris Bucchere, 36, was held to answer to the charge by Superior Court Judge Andrew Cheng after an emotional preliminary hearing that ended this morning.
Prosecutors allege that Bucchere ran multiple red lights and stop signs before striking Sutchi Hui, 71, at Castro and Market streets on the morning of March 29, 2012. Hui died at a hospital days later.
Surveillance video presented by Assistant District Attorney Omid Talai Wednesday showed Bucchere riding south on Castro Street through the intersection before striking Hui, who was in the crosswalk headed east on Market Street.
Three witnesses testified Wednesday that Bucchere ran the red light before entering the intersection and did not try to slow down before striking Hui.
One witness, Nathan Pollak, also said Bucchere ran several red lights and stop signs at other intersections with Castro Street moments before the collision.
Pollak said rather than slow down and stop when the light turned red at Castro and Market, Bucchere “crouched down” to accelerate through the intersection before striking Hui.
Defense attorney Ted Cassman argued that surveillance video of the collision showed that Bucchere had entered the Castro and Market intersection before the light turned red.
Cassman also argued that Hui and other pedestrians entered the crosswalk prior to having the “Walk” signal, which “severely limited Chris’ ability to avoid the accident.”
Cassman described Bucchere as a family man with a wife and 6-year-old daughter. He attended Stanford University, works as a software engineer and has a longstanding love for cycling, according to his attorney.
“Chris has been on a bike almost from the day he was old enough to walk,” Cassman wrote, saying he went on two or three long rides weekly and had “a consistent record of caution and safety,” including teaching safety classes for other cyclists.
Bucchere’s case gained more attention after Hui’s death when it was revealed that, on the day of the collision, he wrote about the accident on an online cycling forum.
“The light turned yellow as I was approaching the intersection, but I was already way too committed to stop,” he wrote.
Bucchere wrote well wishes for the pedestrian, but said the moral of the story was the importance of wearing a helmet, eliciting critical comments from other members of the forum.
The post was later taken off the site.
Bucchere broke down in tears at times during this morning’s hearing. Both he and Cassman declined to speak to reporters afterward.
Bucchere will return to court to be formally arraigned on the charge on March 21.
Dan McMenamin, Bay City News