Karen Gullo, ©2013 Bloomberg News
Published 3:17 pm, Tuesday, July 23, 2013
(Updates with sentencing date in fourth paragraph.)
July 23 (Bloomberg) — San Francisco bicyclist Christopher Bucchere pleaded guilty to felony vehicular manslaughter for striking and killing a 71-year-old man last year and will avoid jail time, the local district attorney said.
The conviction is the first of its kind in the nation involving a cyclist, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon said in an e-mailed statement. Bucchere, 37, a Stanford University-educated technology consultant who once rode for the school’s cycling team, will be sentenced to 1,000 hours of community service and three years’ probation, Gascon said.
“With the conditions of this plea, the defendant will be held accountable for the tragic death of Sutchi Hui and will have an opportunity for redemption,” said Gascon. “We hope this case continues to serve as a reminder that blatant disregard of the traffic laws can have dire consequences.”
While Bucchere had no prior record of bicycling or car accidents, Gascon said in March that the crash was a result of the cyclist’s “need for speed” while attempting to beat his own record and bragging about it. Assistant District Attorney Omid Talai said at a court hearing in March that the cyclist was “extremely reckless” and wrote a social media post the day of the collision dedicated to his helmet.
Bucchere is scheduled for sentencing Aug. 16. A judge can determine in six months whether the conviction can be reduced to a misdemeanor, Gascon said.
Evidence presented at a March court hearing in the city’s case against Bucchere showed he was going 32 miles-an-hour in a 25-mile-an-hour zone and ran three red lights before striking and killing Hui, who was in a pedestrian crosswalk on Market Street in San Francisco’s Castro district at 8 a.m. with his wife en route to a medical appointment.
Bucchere, a lifelong cyclist who trains others in bike safety, was completing a two-hour ride to Marin County with a friend, following a course taken by members of a local cycling club, when he hit Hui on March 29, 2012.
Strava Inc., a website for cyclists that logs athletes’ data from wireless devices, recorded Bucchere going 32 miles an hour at the time of the crash, prosecutors said.
Ted Cassman, Bucchere’s attorney, in March denied his client ran lights and said the Strava data was inaccurate. Hui entered the crosswalk before the pedestrian “walk” light went on and other pedestrians who crossed early “severely limited” Bucchere’s ability to avoid the accident, Cassman said in court filings.
Cassman declined to comment on the plea.
Another San Francisco cyclist, Randolph Ang, pleaded guilty last year to misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter for hitting Dionette Cherney, who died about a month after the crash from her injuries, Gascon said in March 2012.
Ang was riding on Embarcadero and Mission when he ran a red light and collided with Cherney. Ang received 500 hours of community service and three years’ probation.
The case is California v. Bucchere, 12015554, California Superior Court, San Francisco County (San Francisco).