Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Death and Arrest on Quesada Avenue

Shortly after 7 o'clock this morning, residents on the 1400 block of Quesada Avenue heard a deafening crash, and many ran out to the street to find that a white sedan had broadsided a black Honda Civic, and that a police officer was chasing a man fleeing the scene.

Patricia Davis, Bayview resident (pictured), ran to the Honda and took the pulse of the driver, a man who had been thrown to the passenger side of the car, and found him dead. "It was maybe three minutes after the crash," she said. "Then I called 911."

Police apprehended the driver of the white sedan, a man whose pants fell and tripped him. In the minutes following the tragedy, a resident of the block reportedly identified the sedan as belonging to his brother.

Two parked cars were badly damaged in the incident. A resident put out a fire from the white car with a fire extinguisher.

The intersection and much of the block was soon taped off, but residents, law enforcement, fire fighters, paramedics, and reporters still crowded the scene. Relatives of the victim gathered in shock and horror as the Honda was pryed open to remove the body.

While reports were scattered, it appears that a motorcycle police officer was pursuing the sedan at a high rate of speed, traveling east on Quesada Avenue. The victim was heading north on Keith, crossing Quesada. He honked at the sedan, was struck and pushed about 150 feet.

The 1400 block of Quesada is a block were the resident-led Quesada Gardens Initiative has been working. A year ago, residents on the block identified traffic-calming as their number one priority. QGI petitioned the Municipal Transportation Agency to include the block in an "east of Third Street" traffic-calming plan that was then in development.

We secured a speed hump/traffic island for the 1300 block which, ironically, could have changed the course of events this morning.

Adam Gubser, MTA traffic planner, today reported that the speed humps and islands planned for east of Third, including Quesada, have passed public hearing with no opposition and will go to the full board this week. "We could install humps in about a week following approval," he said. "The Quesada island would be constructed within three months."

Residents who gathered in the hours after the incident expressed a range of concerns including the safety of children on the street and the advisability of a high-speed police pursuit. Others were relieved the man who appeard to them responsible had been captured, and one expressed concern about that man's health.

QGI offers its deepest sympathy to the victim's family for their terrible loss.

Postscript: See the front page of Friday's SF Chronicle for more. Edgar Garcia, 23, a construction worker from Guatemala, was the victim. Charles Burns, 25, is the suspect.

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