A bicyclist who hit and killed an elderly man as he walked through a crosswalk in San Francisco’s Castro district has pleaded guilty to felony vehicular manslaughter, but will avoid any jail time.
In what’s being called the first felony conviction of its kind, prosecutors say Chris Bucchere agreed to plead guilty in exchange for a sentence that would have him serve up to 1,000 hours of community service.
Prosecutors had alleged Bucchere was riding his bicycle recklessly when he rode into an intersection at Castro and Market streets in March of 2012 and hit Sutchi Hui of San Bruno. who was crossing the intersection with his wife.
The 71-year-old Hui suffered brain trauma from the collision, and died in a hospital four days later. His wife was unhurt.
After the 37-year-old Bucchere entered his guilty plea Thursday, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon said his conviction sends a message. Gascon told the San Francisco Chronicle:
“We made it very clear that we wanted Mr. Bucchere to be held accountable, and I think it was important to get a felony conviction because the conduct warranted it. On the other hand, he is a first-time offender, and we want to give him a chance for rehabilitation and redemption.”
Bucchere had gained unwanted attention in the case when shortly after the incident he posted his version of the incident in a Mission Cycling AM Google group:
“Around 8 a.m. I was descending Divisadero Street southbound and about to cross Market Street. The light turned yellow as I was approaching the intersection, but 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 it down and just plowed through the crowded crosswalk in the least-populated place I could find.”
Bucchere acknowledged that he hit Hui and added, “I really hope he ends up OK.”
But he was criticized for later dedicating the story to “my late helmet,” which he said “died in heroic fashion” that day.
Bucchere — a software engineer from Marin County — is due to be sentenced on Aug. 16. His sentence could be reduced to a misdemeanor after six months if he complies with terms of his sentence.