Pedestrian killed by driver in early-morning Cathedral Hill crash [Updated]

Photo: Google Maps
By Teresa Hammerl - Published on August 11, 2020.

A pedestrian died this morning after being struck by a driver at Geary Boulevard and Gough Street, near St. Mary's Cathedral. 

The collision occurred around 7 a.m. The pedestrian received medical attention, but died at the scene. 

The driver remained at the scene and is cooperating with the investigation, SFPD spokesperson Robert Rueca tells Hoodline.

"At this time, we do not believe drugs or alcohol were a factor," Rueca said, adding that it's currently unclear if the driver was arrested. Further information about both the pedestrian and driver was also not immediately available.

"It is deeply saddening to learn of another victim of traffic violence in this city, and our hearts go out to the victim’s family and friends," District 5 Supervisor Dean Preston, whose district includes Cathedral Hill, wrote on Facebook.

The intersection has been identified as a high-injury corridor under the city's Vision Zero plan, which aims to eliminate traffic fatalities by 2024. 

Geary Boulevard has four lanes in each direction in the area where the crash occurred, with the cathedral located on the corner of the intersection. Japantown's merchant corridor is just a block away.

In the wake of today's deadly crash, the inbound 38-Geary and 38R-Geary Rapid buses saw reroutes in the area, skipping stops at Laguna Street and Starr King Way. Regular service resumed around 11:45 a.m.

Last month, SFMTA transportation director Jeffrey Tumlin said his agency has seen "a significant uptick of fatalities" in recent weeks, with multiple pedestrians and cyclists killed on the city's streets. 

On July 19, Michael Kingsley, 50, was killed by a hit-and-run driver at Jerrold Avenue and Bayshore Boulevard. That followed the June 18 death of Sergio Montes, 60, at Dwight Street and San Bruno Avenue in Portola.

Both men's deaths occurred along the same Highway 101-adjacent corridor where beloved local grocer Konstantinos "Gus" Vardakastanis, of Gus's Community Markets, was struck and killed by a driver in 2017

Update 5:30 p.m.: Rueca confirms that the driver, a man, was arrested. It was not immediately clear what he is being charged for.

Update 6:30 p.m.: The victim has been identified as a 50-year-old man who lived in San Francisco, according to SFPD.

Police also released more details about the driver. 26-year-old San Francisco resident Raja Whitfield was first transported to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries and later booked into San Francisco County Jail on charges of manslaughter, reckless driving, speeding as well as entering a crosswalk on a red signal.

Jail records indicate that no court or release date has been set.

Walk SF executive director Jodie Medeiros tells Hoodline that streets like Geary and Gough are known to be dangerous. She urges the SFMTA to prioritize pedestrian safety.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the SFPD 24-hour tip line at (415) 575-4444 or text a tip to TIP411 and begin the text message with "SFPD." You may remain anonymous.

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