Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Pedestrians are an Endangered Species in SF

(I've been saying since I moved here that pedestrians in this city are an endangered species. Drivers in this town don't look for people walking on the street. Last month, a man was walking along Chestnut Street here in the Marina District, and a hit-and-run driver killed him while he was legally crossing at a crosswalk. Last week, I almost got hit by a pizza delivery person who didn't even slow down at a 4-way stop. And now, we have this maniac hitting people on purpose. I'm lucky that one of the victims wasn't me, because I walk along these same streets a lot. All I can say is if you walk the streets of SF, please be careful.)

This appeared on AOL this morning.

SAN FRANCISCO (Aug. 30) - The driver in a bloody hit-and-run spree that killed one man and injured more than a dozen people was mentally unstable and feeling stress from a recent arranged marriage, according to relatives.
Omeed A. Popal, 29, was taken into custody Tuesday following a rampage that terrorized pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists. Authorities believe it began more than an hour earlier when his black Honda Pilot fatally struck a man in the East Bay area.
"He drove on sidewalks, streets, hit people on crosswalks. It runs the gamut," said police spokesman Sgt. Neville Gittens.
Popal was arrested on suspicion of 14 counts of attempted murder and a charge of willful flight after causing serious injury or death, Gittens said.
Witnesses said the driver did not slow down.
He then crossed the bay into San Francisco, where he injured at least 14 people in various locations around the city before police boxed him in with their cruisers around 1 p.m. near the Presidio.
The victims were taken to three area hospitals. One was in critical condition at San Francisco General, where Mayor Gavin Newsom met with victims and their families.
"These are the things, these are so senseless. They're utterly inexplicable. They're impossible to rationalize," Newsom said afterward. "The fact that this individual felt compelled for whatever reason to be determined to do what he did is beyond imagination."
Some of the injured were pedestrians and some were motorists. Victims' ages ranged from 18 to 84, authorities said.
Neighbors said Popal was living with his parents in Fremont, home to the nation's largest Afghan community.
No weapons were found on the suspect, though the car had not been searched, Gittens said. There was no information on whether drugs or alcohol were involved, and it was unclear how fast he was driving, he said.
"It was very chaotic," he said. "Fortunately, we were able to take him into custody."

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