A San Francisco bicyclist will face a felony charge of vehicular manslaughter for striking and killing a 71-year-old man last year in what prosecutors say is among the first cases of its kind in the state.
Judge Andrew Cheng in San Francisco criminal court ruled today that Christopher Bucchere, a Stanford University-educated technology consultant who once rode for the school’s cycling team, must stand trial in connection with the death of the pedestrian, who was killed while crossing an intersection last year.
The felony charge is among the first brought against a cyclist, said Alex Bastian, a spokesman for San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon. Cheng heard evidence from prosecutors and Bucchere’s attorney yesterday to decide whether the case should go to trial.
An accident reconstruction expert for prosecutors calculated Bucchere’s speed at 32 miles an hour based on videos of the accident and traffic light data, according to testimony in court yesterday. Bucchere struck Sutchi Hui March 29 as he began crossing the street with his wife on his way to a medical appointment.
Witnesses and investigators yesterday told Cheng that Bucchere, 36, ran two red lights and a stop sign before running the red light at the busy intersection in San Francisco’s Castro District where Hui was crossing.
Ted Cassman, Bucchere’s attorney, said his client didn’t run the light. He said Hui entered the crosswalk before the pedestrian “walk” light went on and other pedestrians who crossed early “severely limited” Bucchere’s ability to avoid the accident, according to a court filing yesterday.
Cassman also challenged the claim that Bucchere was going over the speed limit, saying that data on Strava Inc., a website for cyclists, inaccurately recorded him going 32 miles an hour at the time of the crash.
Cassman asked Cheng to throw out the charge or reduce it to a misdemeanor. Vehicular manslaughter carries a penalty of as long as six years in prison.
Cyclists who have competed using Strava include Lance Armstrong, the seven-time Tour de France winner who was stripped of his titles for doping. Some Strava members had called for Armstrong to be barred from the site.
As of Feb. 4, Armstrong had 10,156 followers on Strava. His profile on the site later became unavailable.
The case is People of the State of California v. Bucchere, 12015554, California Superior Court (San Francisco).
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