SAN FRANCISCO (BCN)
A bicyclist who pleaded guilty to felony vehicular manslaughter after striking and killing a pedestrian in San Francisco’s Castro District last year was sentenced Thursday to three years’ probation and 1,000 hours of community service.
Chris Bucchere, 37, agreed to a plea deal in San Francisco Superior Court last month after striking Sutchi Hui, 71, in a crosswalk at Castro and Market streets on the morning of March 29, 2012.
Prosecutors said Bucchere ran a stop sign and several red lights before striking Hui, who died at a hospital four days later.
Bucchere did not speak at the sentencing hearing at the Hall of Justice but Hui’s son, Terry Hui, spoke on behalf of his family, many members of which were in attendance.
Terry Hui said the family hoped Bucchere’s community service will include assisting the elderly, building houses for the less fortunate or working with victims of severe head trauma.
“The only reason I’m here today is to make sure something positive comes of my father’s death,” he said.
He said his father was “a modest man, a kind and gentle soul” whose death has sent the family reeling.
The son also addressed Bucchere and referred to a post the defendant wrote on an online cycling forum on the day of the collision.
Bucchere wrote that he wanted to dedicate the post to his “late helmet” that was destroyed in the impact of the crash. The post prompted criticism from other forum members and was later taken off the site.
Terry Hui said to Bucchere, “Please don’t squander this second chance you have to be a good and compassionate person and not to be the narcissistic person that you were when you wrote the insensitive web posting about my father.”
Bucchere declined to address the Hui family during the hearing and did not speak to reporters outside of court.
His defense attorney Ted Cassman told Judge James Collins that Bucchere was “amenable and open to serve his community service” in the manner requested by the Hui family.
Before sentencing him, Collins told Bucchere to heed the words of the Hui family and “realize the devastation you have caused with your recklessness.”
District Attorney George Gascon said the felony vehicular manslaughter conviction is the first of its kind in the nation involving a bicyclist, although the charge can be reduced to a misdemeanor if Bucchere stays out of trouble for six months.
Gascon said, “It was in the interest of justice to settle the case the way we did,” and Terry Hui told reporters that the family agreed to a lack of jail time for Bucchere as part of the plea deal.
Hui said his father “always taught me to give someone a second chance. If we all seek revenge for wrongs that people have done for us — an eye for an eye — we’d all be blind, and that’s not what society is about.”
During a preliminary hearing in the case earlier this year, Bucchere’s attorney had argued that surveillance video of the collision showed that his client entered the intersection of Castro and Market streets before the traffic light turned red.
However, a judge upheld the felony charge and the case was headed to trial before Bucchere pleaded guilty on July 18.
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