Around 8 p.m. on New Year's Eve, a 6-year-old girl was struck and killed by an SUV while crossing the street with her mother and young brother near the intersection of Ellis and Polk Streets in the Tenderloin.
According to SFPD, the mother was in the crosswalk with her two children when all three were struck by a male driver in a gray Honda Pilot making a turn through the intersection. All three victims were taken to San Francisco General Hospital. The brother is expected to survive, but the mother is still in critical condition with life threatening injuries.
Bay City News reports the driver remained on the scene and was cooperating with police. He was later arrested for vehicular manslaughter. According to SFPD spokesman Gordon Shyy, drugs or alcohol did not appear to be a factor in the incident.
Update: According to Supervisor Jane Kim, whose district includes the Tenderloin, the driver of the gray Honda Pilot self-identified as an Uber driver. The driver reportedly made a right turn without yielding to the pedestrians who had the green light. The victim has been identified as 6-year-old Sophia Liu. (Earlier reports claimed she was 7.) Her mother and brother are expected to survive.
Update 3:30 p.m.: Uber has released a statement, distancing themselves from the incident:
Our hearts go out to the family and victims of the accident that occurred in downtown San Francisco last night. We work with transportation providers across the Bay Area, but we can confirm that this tragedy did not involve a vehicle or provider doing a trip on the Uber system.
Update January 2: Supervisor Kim has released an updated statement, emailed to SFist. In it, the Supervisor says the driver was "a non-taxi, for-pay driver." When asked by SFist if the driver may have been available for rides through their system at the time, Uber simply referred us to their previously posted statement. Here's Supervisor Kim's updated statement in full:
There are no words to express the deep sadness and grief felt for the death of young San Francisco resident, Sophia Liu, our second pedestrian death in the Tenderloin in the month of December and the 20th pedestrian fatality in San Francisco, the highest in 6 years. A disproportionate number of these fatalities occurred in the Tenderloin and SOMA neighborhoods, which continue to present the highest number of traffic collisions in San Francisco.
It appears to have been 100% avoidable by driver compliance with basic traffic laws, specifically yielding to the pedestrian right of way. Unfortunately this is one of the top five driver violations that lead to pedestrian injuries and deaths, along with speeding, running red lights and stop signs and turning violations. According to the SFPD’s own collision reports, an average of 2 to 3 pedestrians are hit by drivers every day in San Francisco, a staggering statistic that has elevated the need for improved traffic enforcement in our known high-injury corridors.
In addition, the driver was a non-taxi, for-pay driver. Certainly this incident raises questions regarding the driver training and selection process for the increasing number of ride share drivers on our city streets. While emerging driver service apps fulfill an important need for flexible on-demand transportation in San Francisco, we must examine a universal baseline of scrutiny and safety oversight for these services.