Prosecutors say it's the first for San Francisco: A cyclist pleads guilty to felony manslaughter.
On Monday, local cyclist Chris Bucchere pleaded guilty to felony vehicular manslaughter in connection to the death of 71-year-old Sutchi Hui who was walking with his wife in the Castro when Bucchere plowed into him with his bike.
But rather than spending any time behind bars, the 37-year-old will serve 1,000 hours of community service. If after six months he complies with the terms, a judge might reduce his sentence, according to the Chron.
Jail time or not, the message being sent is clear: negligent cyclists will be held accountable in San Francisco, said District Attorney George Gascón.
"I think it was important to get a felony conviction because the conduct warranted it," Gascón said. "On the other hand, he is a first-time offender, and we want to give him a chance for rehabilitation and redemption."
Although Bucchere's attorney was initially refusing to plead guilty to a felony, prosecutors claim to have plenty of evidence that shows Bucchere acting recklessly on March 29, 2012 as he allegedly blew through a red light at a high-rate of speed, hitting Hui who was walking through a crosswalk with his wife. Hui died a few days later.
However, Bucchere insists the light was yellow when he entered the intersection. After the accident, Bucchere (or at least someone purporting to be him) posted this online rant on a local cycling forum:
The light turned yellow as I was approaching the intersection, but I was already way too committed to stop. The light turned red as I was cruising through the middle of the intersection and then, almost instantly, the southern crosswalk on Market and Castro filled up with people coming from both directions. I couldn't see a line through the crowd and I couldn't stop, so I laid it down and just plowed through the crowded crosswalk in the least-populated place I could find," he continued. "I don't remember the next five minutes but when I came to, I was in a neck brace being loaded into an ambulance. I remember seeing a RIVER of blood on the asphalt, but it wasn't mine. Apparently I hit a 71-year-old male pedestrian and he ended up in the ICU with pretty serious head injuries. I really hope he ends up OK.
Bucchere will be sentenced on Aug. 16.