Cyclist's Felony Manslaughter Plea First Of Its Kind In U.S.
A bicyclist who struck and killed a pedestrian in San Francisco last year has pleaded guilty to felony vehicular manslaughter, prosecutors announced Wednesday. The conviction is said to be the first of its kind in the nation.
The accident happened when 37-year-old Chris Bucchere rode through several red lights and struck 71-year-old Sutchi Hui and his wife, who were crossing the intersection.
Hui died four days later from his injuries.
While cyclists in the past have received misdemeanor manslaughter convictions, District Attorney George Gascon said he believed this was the first felony manslaughter conviction for a cyclist, The Associated Press reports.
"Our goal is to send a message to cyclists about safety," Gascon said. "Just because you are riding a bicycle doesn't mean all bets are off. All of the rules of the road that apply to everyone else apply to you, too."
Bucchere's plea deal, which does not include jail time, includes three years of probation and 1,000 hours of community service. He was scheduled to go to trial in October.
"Having a felony conviction was important to us," Gascon said. "We would have gone to trial if they had not agreed to a felony conviction."
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Hui's family did not want jail time for Bucchere. Hui's son said he did not believe sending Bucchere to jail "would do anything for the community."
The family has, however, filed a civil lawsuit against Bucchere.
Immediately following the accident in 2012, reports ABC News, Bucchere posted comments about the crash on an Internet message board.
"I was already way too committed to stop ... I couldn't see a line through the crowd and I couldn't stop so I laid down and just plowed through the crowded crosswalk in the least-populated place I could find," Bucchere wrote. "I hope he ends up OK."
Prosecutors argued the post did not show any remorse for the crash.
Bucchere is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 16. A Superior Court judge could determine in six months whether his conviction can be reduced to a misdemeanor.