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Viral San Francisco car flip started with carjacking, police say

A white vehicle tumbles downhill Saturday from the top of the Sanchez Stairs at 19th and Sanchez streets in San Francisco. | Source: Courtesy Julia Brown @JuliaBrownSF via YouTube

A car that was driven through a barrier and flipped over in a well-to-do San Francisco neighborhood was stolen, authorities said Monday evening.

Police said that they responded to reports of a car crash at 19th and Sanchez streets around 7:19 p.m. Saturday, where they found an overturned white four-door sedan surrounded by broken glass and debris in the roadway at the foot of the Sanchez Stairs.

Police said as they were responding to the incident they were approached by a man who said he owned the car.

According to police, the victim told officers he was sitting in his car near 19th and Dolores streets when he was approached by unidentified suspects who carjacked his vehicle. The victim reported non-life-threatening injuries caused by the incident, police said.

The suspects have not been found as of Monday evening, police said.

READ MORE: Video: Driver, Passengers Flee After Wild Car Flip in San Francisco’s Castro

A viral video of the crash shows the car barreling down the tree-covered hillside before coming to a stop upside down. Several people then help each other out of the car while passersby call out for someone to call 911. At one point, someone says, "Guys, I'm sorry […] We gotta go."

When authorities arrived on the scene a few minutes, neighbors told them the driver and several passengers had fled on foot.

According to a tweet from the San Francisco Fire Department, firefighters aboard the department's Truck No. 7 responded to the scene and found no injuries. Witnesses said the car careened off the dead end at Cumberland Street. A tow truck was called to remove the car.

Julia Brown, a neighbor who posted the video on YouTube Saturday, told The Standard she wasn't home when the crash happened but was able to assemble video from neighborhood cameras.

Another neighbor, who identified himself only as "Russ," said he remembered seeing homeless encampments at the base of those stairs during the early part of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We all—a lot of us—work together to keep the neighborhood safe and clean and healthy, and we've been really successful," he said. "I think it's just kind of, frankly, a freak accident."

Garrett Leahy can be reached at