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Hit-and-run marks first San Francisco traffic death of 2023

Bessie Chui, 50, was killed in a hit-and-run accident at the intersection of Potrero Avenue and Alameda Street on New Year's Day, marking the first traffic death of 2023. Cars and pedestrians pass through the intersection on Jan. 6, 2023. | Camille Cohen/The Standard

A hit-and-run on New Year’s Day killed a woman in San Francisco’s first traffic death of the year.

The victim, Bessie Chui, was 50 years old and a resident of Alameda County, according to San Francisco’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

Chui’s friends posted about her death on Facebook and remembered her as a “bright light and bright heart.”

Tony Lau, a Chinese American businessman who worked as Chui’s former contractor, said he was saddened by the news of her death.

“She is a very nice person,” Lau said. “When I was working on her project, she was patient and always open to talk to me.”

The crash happened around 8:15 p.m. Sunday in the Mission District as Chui left a party. She was at the intersection of Potrero Avenue and Alameda Street when she and another person were hit, according to police. The male victim was injured but survived.

Police did not provide any information about the vehicle, but social media posts suggested the suspect was driving a blue Honda Civic. No arrests have been made.

The event venue, The Great Northern, also posted on Facebook about the tragedy.

Walk SF, a pedestrian rights advocacy group in the city, said Chui’s death is San Francisco’s first pedestrian fatality of 2023.

“Horrible way to start the year, after such a deadly 2022,” said Jodie Medeiros, executive director of Walk SF. 

There were 37 traffic fatalities in San Francisco last year, according to the group, and 19 of the people killed were pedestrians.