West Portal crash: Hundreds attend vigil for parents, child killed in crash in San Francisco

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By journalsofus.com

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — There is widespread grief in San Francisco’s West Portal community after a 78-year-old woman was arrested for the weekend crash that killed three members of a family, including a toddler.

It happened on Saturday when the woman crashed an SUV into a bus stop on Ulloa Street. Jail records show she had no prior criminal or civil cases in San Francisco.

RELATED: Community mourning death of third person after SUV bus stop crash in SF West Portal: SFPD

“I was doing laundry and I heard a loud crash, and I looked out the window and I saw this wrecked car,” said neighbor Joanna Dimayuga.

Dimayuga ran to help.

“I saw a lady being treated, I gave her a towel. Her mouth was bloody, then I knew it was the driver,” Dimayuga added.

Police say 78-year-old Mary Fong Lau was arrested on three felony counts of vehicular manslaughter, including one count of reckless driving.

Investigators say Lau was speeding, driving the wrong way on Ulloa Street, traveling east in the westbound lane, before crashing into the bus stop in front of the Portal Oeste Library.

VIDEO: 78-year-old SF woman arrested for crash that killed 3 members of her family

A 78-year-old San Francisco woman is in custody, suspected of killing three members of her family, including a child. The horrific incident occurred Saturday in the city’s West Portal neighborhood.

“I often see Mary working in the garden in front of her house,” says Simmone Fichtner.

Fichtner is Lau’s neighbor and she can’t believe the news.

“She is always a calm woman, she greets and takes care of her grandchildren. It’s very unexpected, I’m very sorry,” Fichtner added.

Friends of the slain couple say they were full of life. They said the family was headed to the zoo on Saturday and decided to take the bus.

VIDEO: Neighbors gather around memorial to 3 family members who died after bus crash in SF

According to jail records, a 78-year-old woman was arrested for allegedly crashing into a bus stop in San Francisco’s West Portal neighborhood, killing three members of her family, including a toddler.

Friends of the family told ABC7 News that four people, a couple with their toddler and baby, were hit.

The couple and child died and the baby has life-threatening injuries.

The community has been shaken by this tragedy.

Once the debris from the accident was collected, the objects that remained in memory of the family were placed at the site.

Loved ones and neighbors are leaving flowers along with candles and stuffed animals.

Kristi Bulnes lives in the neighborhood and left flowers at the memorial. She says she plans to go to the vigil.

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“Obviously this story touches my heart,” he said. “I have a 2-year-old son. I have an older son and we are in this neighborhood all day, every day, multiple times a day, and it could have been anyone, so I wanted to share my condolences.”

On Monday night, hundreds of people attended a vigil for the family in San Francisco. The mayor of San Francisco and the police chief also attended.

Close friends in the area where the accident occurred posted photos showing the family.

“This is the most graphic, vivid and horrifying thing I have ever seen in my life,” said a woman who witnessed the accident.

Some neighbors say that whatever the cause of the accident, the area of ​​the West Portal neighborhood where it occurred is very confusing and they believe changes need to be made.

“People don’t know where to walk, not walk, you can see the lights are terrible. People don’t know when to cross the street!” said Joe Kaplan, who lives nearby.

Jodie Medeiros of Walk San Francisco, a nonprofit that advocates for pedestrian safety, is heartbroken by the accident. Her group is planning a vigil at the crash site.

“No one should die this way. Our community should not lose members of our community this way. It’s absolutely devastating,” Medeiros said.

RELATED: 1 child and 1 adult die when SUV crashes into SF West Portal bus stop, SFFD says

Medeiros points to Vision Zero, San Francisco’s goal of eliminating traffic-related deaths and injuries.

“The fact that we’re not there means we need to do more and the city needs to do better,” Medeiros said.

Luke Bornheimer, San Francisco resident started a petition after finding out about the accident.

“My petition calls for the closure of the intersection of West Portal Ave and Ulloa St to automobile traffic,” Bornheimer said. “That’s to make it safer for everyone who uses this area and to make public transportation more reliable and safe.”

Organizers of the vigil say it’s about keeping the community together.

District 7 Supervisor Myrna Melgar says they are working to put up signs in the area.

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San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins issued a statement Monday saying:

I offer my deepest and most heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of the victims and to the West Portal community that has been so deeply affected by Saturday afternoon’s accident. There are no words to adequately describe this tragedy. My office’s Victim Services Division has been in contact with the victims’ families and will work closely with them. The family has asked for privacy as they grieve and work to make sense of what happened.

Although San Francisco police made an arrest in this case, this remains an active and ongoing investigation that is only in its early stages. Police had probable cause to arrest Mary Fong Lau based on preliminary evidence gathered to date. My office is now in the process of receiving case information and evidence from the police department.

While I understand there is an immediate desire to know what will ultimately happen in this case, I ask for the public’s patience as investigators continue to gather more information so my office can make appropriate charging decisions. The extent and nature of any criminal liability depends on many factors. For example, toxicology results alone may take more than 30 days to obtain and the vehicle’s operating systems will need to be carefully analyzed by experts and evaluated to determine if mechanical issues may have played a role in this incident. These are just two examples of the ongoing investigation that must be conducted that cannot be completed within the 48 hours we legally have to issue a charging decision.

“My office will continue to support the victims’ families and the community during this difficult time.”

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