It's been nearly two years since a San Francisco debutante allegedly mowed down two kids in a Marina crosswalk as she drove her SUV while allegedly under the influence. But other than a brief booking the day of the crash, the suspect hasn't spent a day in jail, continuing to plead not guilty as the case makes its slow way to trial.
A refresher, for those of you who'd forgotten the case: It was 8:30 a.m. on November 4 of 2015 when witnesses say that then-30-year-old Sea Cliff resident Kirsten Andereck struck two Marina Middle School 7th graders who were walking in the crosswalk at Bay and Buchanan Streets.
According to police reports that the time, an ice cream delivery truck had stopped in the westbound lane of Bay Street to allow 12-year-olds Peter Nguyen and Julian Melendez to cross. Witnesses say that Kirsten Andereck instead passed the truck on the left and struck the kids with her white Volkswagen Tiguan SUV.
The collision was hard enough, ABC 7 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, who'd graduated from St. Ignatius College Preparatory in 2001, was a debutante at a Cotillion event hosted by the Cotillion Club of San Francisco in 2004. She was most recently employed as a teacher at several kindergarten and elementary schools in the city, and has a master’s degree in bilingual education from the University of San Francisco.
Her parents are Helga Andereck and Dr. William Andereck, who at the time of his daughter's arrest was an internist and the medical director of California Pacific Medical Center’s Program in Medicine and Human Values.
She was arrested at the scene on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, police said at the time.
The next day, Andereck was released on $230,000 bail, after being 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 pled "not guilty" on November 10, represented at the time by two private defense attorneys: V. Roy Lefcourt (a defense attorney featured in this 1998 SF Weekly cover story on gang homicides) and Betsy Wolkin (perhaps best known as Ross Mirkarimi's defense lawyer during his domestic violence case).
“This has been an exceptionally emotional” time for Andereck, Lefcourt said following her appearance in court to enter her not guilty plea. According to media reports at the time, Andereck was in fact so distraught by the case that she's "had to be hospitalized the last few days," Lefcourt said.
Meanwhile, the kids were also being hospitalized, in their cases for broken bones and "traumatic injuries," an attorney for their family said. They had both returned to school by August of 2016, when their families announced a civil lawsuit against both Andereck and the city of San Francisco, as they say safety improvements to the intersection might have prevented the collision.
And that brings us to today, where the wheels of justice continue to turn. A look at court records shows that the civil suit brought by the victims against Andereck and SF continues, the most recent filings made on October 12 of this year.
But what of the criminal case, tweeted so openly by the District Attorney's office when charges were filed? That, too, winds on, as DA's spokesperson Max Szabo tells SFist that Andereck's next appearance in court is November 16 (it's case number 15024617, to be called at 9 a.m. in Department 23 at the 850 Bryant courthouse, the court website says).
But that appearance is just a hearing, Szabo says. He confirms that Andereck "hasn’t changed her plea" to any of the charges, which means that unless a plea deal is reached, a trial is inevitable. When asked about a possible trial date, however, Szabo said regretfully that he had no details on timing of a "final outcome," meaning that we might expect this case to drag on for some time to come.