A bicyclist who ran into a 71-year-old pedestrian in San Francisco on March 29 will likely be facing a felony manslaughter charge because the crash resulted in the elderly pedestrian's death. Citing the bicyclist's gross negligence in the fatal accident, prosecutors plan to charge the man with vehicular manslaughter.
This is an unusual case because it is very rare for a bicycle accident to result in a death unless the crash also involves an automobile. And in those cases, it is usually the bicyclist who is the victim. However, in this case, the investigators have indicated that the bicyclist was travelling at approximately 35 miles per hour in a 25-mile-per hour zone, and that he crossed an intersection under a yellow light. The elderly victim sustained serious injuries in the resulting impact that ultimately led to his death.
Bicycling is become increasingly popular throughout the country, but especially in California, and San Francisco in particular. Many people see bicycling as a great alternative to the usually heavy car traffic patterns to be found throughout the state, as well as a healthy option which helps leave a lighter carbon footprint. However, as more bicyclists take to the roads, they must be mindful of the fact that they still need to share the road with cars and pedestrians.
The bicyclist in this case will now likely face criminal charges, but he could also face a civil suit for wrongful death. All of the facts regarding this fatal accident currently point toward the bicyclist's negligence as the primary cause. A wrongful death cause of action can even result in punitive damages which can cover the family members of the decedent for their pain and suffering.
Source: CBS San Francisco, "Cyclist In Fatal San Francisco Pedestrian Crash May Face Felony Charge," April 25, 2012