Tour bus driver cited in pedestrian death

The driver of a tour bus that struck and killed a man in San Francisco’s Lower Pacific Heights neighborhood last weekend has been cited for misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter, police said Thursday.

Vincent Jones, 61, was cited under a city ordinance approved less than a year ago that prohibits tour bus operators from narrating a tour while driving, police Officer Grace Gatpandan said Thursday.

The case has been forwarded to prosecutors for a decision on whether to file charges, Gatpandan said.

Police said the tour bus was turning right on to Post Street from northbound Divisadero when the collision occurred around 1 p.m. on Saturday.

The victim, identified by the medical examiner’s office as Pieter Roell, 82, was in the crosswalk at the time of the collision, according to police. As of earlier this week police were still working to determine whether he was crossing with the light.

Jones cooperated with police and was not arrested at the scene of the collision.

The law requiring tour buses to have separate drivers and narrators was passed after the death of a city employee, Priscila “Precy” Moreto, who was struck by a tour bus and killed at Polk and McAllister streets in October of 2014.

Tour buses have come in for increased scrutiny in San Francisco following a crash in Union Square in November that injured 20 people. The bus in that crash was later found to be a “ghost bus,” meaning it was not properly registered with the California Public Utilities Commission or inspected by the California Highway Patrol, and while the company had passed an inspection shortly before the crash, a surprise inspection conducted shortly afterward found multiple violations.

State Assemblymen Phil Ting and David Chiu and state Sen. Jerry Hill have introduced a package of state legislation seeking to increase safety inspections and improve the regulation of tour bus companies.

The bills would require the DMV and CPUC to work together to identify tour buses that have not been registered with the CPUC, increase the frequency of CHP inspections and allow cities such as San Francisco to conduct their own supplemental safety inspections.

Supervisors Jane Kim and Aaron Peskin on Wednesday said they would act to create a city tour bus inspection program if the state legislation authorizing it passes.