On March 29, 2012, cyclist Chris Bucchere was racing back from a bike ride in the Marin Headlands when he hit and mortally wounded a pedestrian.
Sutchi Hui, 71, was crossing the intersection at Castro and Market with his wife when Bucchere blew through the light heading South on Castro Street and struck him. Hui died of his wounds four days later in the hospital.
To avoid a jury trial and jail time, Bucchere pled guilty to vehicular manslaughter in 2013 and was sentenced to 1,000 hours of community service.
This past Sunday, more than six years later, Bucchere launched a ten-week podcast, "Bikelash: How San Francisco created America's first bicycle felon," to chronicle the incident from his own perspective.
In the multipart podcast, Bucchere claims he was the victim of a malicious prosecution by District Attorney George Gascon.
Regarding the podcast, he states on his website:
It’s about criminal justice. It’s about prosecutors manipulating the press in order to deprive defendants of due process, where facts get misconstrued and inaccurate details leaked. It’s about social media whipping public opinion to a frenzy, giving DAs fodder for political gain. It’s about what really happens behind the headlines: who wins, who loses, who plays fair—and who doesn’t.
The first episode, 96 minutes long, is split into nine chapters. Bucchere describes what happened 18 minutes after the crash, when he came to in the ER, through six days later, as he grasps the reality that he could be charged with vehicular manslaughter and serve up to one year in county jail.
In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle this week, Bucchere says he “failed as a cyclist” and in his “moral responsibility to keep everyone safe ... and I’m terribly sorry about,” but argues that "it was a TV felony."
In chapter four of the podcast, Bucchere touches on the infamous note that he wrote after the accident, which was posted on Mission Cycling AM Riders Google and drew many to call for his prosecution.
In the message, he wrote that he "was too committed to stop" and "laid it down and just plowed through the crowded cross walk in the least-populated place I could find." He also lamented the loss of his bike helmet saying, "She died in heroic fashion today as my head slammed into the tarmac."
Today, Bucchere claims this message was an email sent to family and friends that was posted to Mission Cycling AM Riders Google without his consent and disputes the interpretation of the content.
“I never made a comparison between my ‘dead’ helmet and the man I had killed — he [the victim] was alive when I wrote that and expected him to recover from his injuries," he told the Chronicle.
Bucchere also denies that he ran the light and says he believes the light was yellow when he entered the intersection before crashing into Hui.
Surveillance video later retrieved by the D.A.’s office during the investigation shows the light turned red as Bucchere entered the intersection.
“The video was incredibly lucky and it definitely saved me from jail, but it couldn’t stop Gascón’s vendetta against cyclists,” Bucchere told the Chronicle.
In response to the podcast, D.A. spokesperson Alex Bastian told the Chronicle, “Bucchere blames his felony conviction on our office, the Matier & Ross column, the witnesses at the scene and the pedestrians on hand, but talk is cheap and actions speak louder than words."
“His actions that day killed a beloved 71-year-old family man. If he’s looking to cast blame, he should look in the mirror,' Bastian added.
Never miss a story.
Subscribe today to get Hoodline delivered straight to your inbox.