Holly Park victim’s family awarded $15 million
The family of a 35-year-old woman who was run over and killed by a city employee driving on the grass in San Francisco’s Holly Park last September has been issued a settlement by the city of $15.1 million.
Vegar and Isa Svanemyr, the husband and toddler of Christine “Christy” Svanemyr, will receive the settlement as a result of a claim filed in November 2013. The settlement was approved by The City’s Recreation and Park Commission in July and adopted by the city’s Board of Supervisors today.
The funds will be paid to the family in three installments. On the afternoon of Sept. 5, 2013, Christine Svanemyr had been lying on the grass with her daughter and family dog when a Recreation and Park Department truck driven by Thomas Burnoski, 58, went off the path and fatally struck her.
The claim that ultimately resulted in the settlement, alleges that Burnoski initially fled the scene and did not help or call for assistance. Burnoski was charged with felony vehicular manslaughter and felony hit-and-run.
He is out of custody with strict driving restrictions and pleaded not guilty to the criminal charges on Oct. 23, 2013, according to the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office.
Matt Dorsey, a spokesman with the City Attorney’s Office said he hoped the settlement “offers a measure of justice and closure to the victim’s family” and allows the family to avoid “the added costs and heartache of a lawsuit.”
In the wake of Christine Svanemyr’s death, the Rec and Park Department modified its driving policies, including the implementation of a 5 mph speed limit within parks, an increase in use of headlights and other lighting on vehicles, and a reminder to use spotters with vehicles, and if driving solo, plotting out the intended path of travel and advising park patrons.
Rec and Park Department issued a department-wide memo outlining those changes. Burnoski is no longer employed by the Rec and Park Department. Christine Svanemyr was ordained as a Zen monk and served as the director of development for New Ventures West, a group of therapeutic practitioners.