As city organizations trade barbs over policies that they say would have prevented the hit-and-run deaths of two cyclists Wednesday, the San Francisco Police Department continues to search for the suspect behind one of the fatal collisions.
As previously reported, the first collision occurred at 6:01 p.m. on John F. Kennedy Drive and 30th Avenue in Golden Gate Park.
According to a press release sent by the SFPD, "witnesses reported that a white Honda traveling westbound on JFK Drive at a high rate of speed crossed into the opposing lane of traffic and struck a bicyclist pedaling eastbound."
The cyclist, a 41-year-old San Francisco woman since identified by the San Francisco Medical Examiner's office as Heather Miller, died at the scene, police say.
According to SFPD's release, "the suspect fled the scene in the vehicle which was found parked and abandoned a short time later at the Angler's Casting Club in Golden Gate Park. The car had been reported stolen and the suspect driver is still outstanding."
At a media event Thursday, SFPD Commander Robert O’Sullivan addressed the driver, described as a man in his 20s.
“Suspect — turn yourself in,” O’Sullivan said, urging anyone with information on the case to contact police.
Then at 8:24 p.m. Wednesday, the driver of a BMW, since identified by police as 32-year-old San Franciscan Farrukh Mushtaq (that's his photo, above), allegedly ran a red light as he traveled west on Howard Street at 7th Street.
He allegedly struck a 26-year-old female cyclist since identified as SF resident Katherine Slattery, then "continued westbound to the area of Howard and 9th Street where he stopped and exited his car," police say.
"The car then rolled and struck an unoccupied vehicle parked on Howard Street," according to police, as "A witness [perhaps this Reddit user?] spoke with the driver until police arrived at the scene and took Mushtaq into custody."
Slattery "was transported to the hospital but later died," according to the SFPD.
Mushtaq was booked into San Francisco County Jail on the charges of felony hit-and-run and vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, police say, noting that "impairment [that is, drugs or alcohol] does not appear to be a factor in this case." As of Friday morning, a San Francisco Sheriff's Department spokesperson confirms, Mushtaq remains in custody.
In both cases, O’Sullivan says, the cyclists were following all laws, and the drivers were at fault. “This is reckless behavior,” O’Sullivan said of the men responsible for the fatal collisions. “This is criminal behavior.”
“We are simply outraged,” Mayor Ed Lee said at the media event. “These are tragedies that can be prevented," a sentiment that appeared to frustrate San Francisco Bicycle Coalition spokesman Chris Cassidy, who told KRON 4 that "infrastructure at both intersections where the deaths occurred is woefully inadequate" and that police "are failing in their commitment to prevent serious bicycle injuries and fatalities by not writing enough citations for speeding, running red lights, failing to yield, violating turn restrictions and running stop signs."
At Thursday's press conference, SFMTA head Ed Reiskin agreed that the transit agency knows why collisions happen, and "we know where they’re happening, and we know what things we can do to make them least likely to happen." But he also indirectly addressed Cassidy's infrastructure critiques, saying that Wednesday's collisions "showed design alone isn’t sufficient if somebody is speeding through the streets and disobeying the laws."
And regarding claims that moving violations are poorly enforced, Reiskin says that "We can't have police standing on every street," ABC 7 reports.
"There's 141 communities across the country that are using cameras to enforce speed limits. Currently California state law does not allow us to do that here and we're working to change that," he said, a sentiment backed up in a blog post from the SFMTA Thursday that argued that "fixed speed cameras reduce injury crashes by 20 to 25 percent, and mobile speed cameras reduce injury collisions by 21 to 51 percent."
"This is a life-saving technology," the SF MTA writes, "and it’s time for state law to change."
But as far as the SFBC is concerned, Thursday's presser was "hollow words without any detail,” according to KQED.
“Instead of transformative leadership, we have Mayor Ed Lee,” Cassidy told the Ex. “It’s unprecedented to have two fatalities in one night.”
According to police, both collisions remain active and open investigations, and though "investigators are following up leads from the JFK Drive collision," they "are appealing for public assistance." Anyone with information on either collision is asked to contact SFPD's Anonymous Tip Line at 415-575-4444 or can Text a Tip to TIP411 and begin the text message with SFPD.