Readers eager for an update (yes, we've gotten your tweets, Facebook messages, and emails) on the case of Kirsten Andereck, the allegedly drunk Seacliff resident who witnesses say slammed into two kids as they used a Marina District crosswalk last November get their wish today, as the families of the victims have filed a civil suit against Andereck and the city of San Francisco, saying they're both responsible for the violent collision.
If you don't recall the case, here are the salient points: At 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, November 4, two 12-year-old 7th-graders at Marina Middle School were walking in the crosswalk on Bay Street at Buchanan. Police say that an ice cream delivery truck had stopped in the westbound lane of Bay Street to allow the kids to cross, but 30-year-old SF resident Kirsten Andereck passed the truck on the left and struck the kids from behind the wheel of her white Volkswagen Tiguan SUV, according to the San Francisco Police Department.
The collision was hard enough, ABC7 reported at the time, that "the boys were launched into the air by the impact, thrown across the intersection. Their backpack, clothes, and shoes left scattered in the street."
Andereck, a then-30-year-old former teacher, and "debutante at a Cotillion event hosted by the Cotillion Club of San Francisco" was led away from the scene in handcuffs "on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs," a police spokesperson said that the time. She was eventually charged with two felony drunk-driving counts, with one of those regarding the causation of great bodily injury, as well as two counts of child endangerment with enhancements of allegations of great bodily injury. She pleaded not guilty, and was released on $230,000 bail pending trial.
First, the good news: According to the SF Examiner, both of the kids injured in the crash "are back in school," says an attorney for their families. Given that witnesses said at the time that they "were thrown 40 feet in the air from one crosswalk to another...shoes were knocked off their feet, and their backpacks and sports drink were tossed into the air," this is a great relief.
However, the Ex also reports that both boys "suffered orthopedic injuries from which they are still healing," as well as traumatic brain injuries that "can take time to notice."
According to the families' civil suit, which was filed in San Francisco Superior Court in June, San Francisco is "at fault for the dangerous condition of the road because the crosswalk location forced pedestrians to cross the road at a highly trafficked spot."
This lawsuit isn't the first time that questions have been raised about this intersection. At the time of the crash, safety upgrades that had been planned for the stretch of road where the collision occurred were delayed by the SFMTA, apparently since the summer of 2014.
A safety project intended to narrow the roadway, the Ex reported at the time, which “'should reduce speeding and improve pedestrian safety by shortening the crossing distance' was approved by the SFMTA Board of Directors almost two years to the day before the boys were hit, according to SFMTA documents - Nov. 5, 2013."
According to one version of the project site, the changes were to be “implemented in coordination with a repaving project on Bay Street in the summer of 2014.”
At the time of the crash, residents said that though the speed limit on the street is 25, it's well-known that drivers pass through far more quickly, with one saying that traffic in the area “needs to be calmed down.”
"Taming speed means the City can save lives," pedestrian advocates Walk SF said in a statement following the crash, urging "solutions like more targeted enforcement of speeders, and more complete street design changes that create streets to look and feel like the speed that is appropriate for that street."
In addition, reports the Ex, the lawsuit describes Andereck as "negligent," and names her in the suit as well. This civil suit is in addition to Andereck's criminal case, which is ongoing — she's set to return to court on September 8 for that one.
According to court documents, the families of the victims seek "an unspecified amount of at least $25,000 in damages." A message left at the office of San Francisco's City Attorney (which will be responsible for defending the city on the civil case) requesting comment was not returned at publication time, but according to the Ex the litigants in the suit are expected to return to court on November 30 for a pretrial conference.