The father of a 17-year-old girl killed while she crossed a street Saturday near San Francisco’s Stern Grove visited the spot this afternoon where his daughter was struck, just hours after the accused drunken driver was in court.
Accused of vehicular manslaughter and DUI, Kieran Brewer, 28, made his initial appearance in court today in connection with the death of Henren Chang, who was fatally struck as she crossed Sloat Boulevard at Vale Avenue at about 11:20 p.m.
A memorial for Chang, a Lowell High School junior who died on her 17th birthday, in the middle of the intersection was overflowing with at least two-dozen bouquets of flowers this afternoon.
“She had many sweet friends,” Chang’s father said today. He reflected on her love of running for her high school track and cross-country teams, and how she would go jogging through the city.
He said he always told her to be careful while running and made her wear reflective gear.
Three friends dropped off a fresh set of flowers this afternoon, while her father reflected on how his daughter’s death could have been prevented.
“It needs a clear signal,” he said.
The portion of Sloat Boulevard where she was struck has been the site of other recent fatal collisions with pedestrians, including one in January 2010.
Her father said his family won’t be able to recover from the loss, and he is figuring out how to tell his aging parents in Taiwan about their granddaughter’s death.
As to the suspected drunken driver, Chang’s father said, “I forgive that person. There can’t be hatred.”
Brewer’s blood-alcohol content when he was booked into custody was .09, barely above the .08 limit, Deputy Public Defender Kwixuan Maloof said in court today.
However, prosecutors noted that the testing was done hours after the crash and that Brewer admitted to drinking prior to driving.
“The defendant’s behavior was as inexcusable was it was predictable,” Assistant District Attorney Nicole Joseph-Goteiner said.
She said Brewer was also going at least 10 mph above the speed limit on Sloat Boulevard when he struck Chang and that there were no skid marks indicating that he tried to stop before hitting her.
“He was a danger to the community when he got behind the wheel and started driving,” Joseph-Goteiner said.
San Francisco Superior Court Judge Jerome Benson ultimately decided to reduce Brewer’s bail to $300,000 from the scheduled $800,000, calling that amount “probably excessive.”
“This is a very tragic case,” District Attorney George Gascon said. “This is the kind of thing that happens way too often on our streets.”
The city’s Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved retroactively accepting and expending a $797,000 federal grant to make pedestrian safety improvements at three intersections in the area.
Gascon said streets without optimal safety conditions are no excuse for the collision.
“If you’re driving while you’re impaired, those bad conditions become worsened,” he said.
Brewer was ordered to return to court on Friday to enter a plea.
He faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of all charges.
Sasha Lekach/Dan McMenamin, Bay City News