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San Francisco activists barricade turn lane where 4-year-old girl was killed

Traffic cones and soft plastic FlexPosts block a right-hand turn lane from Fourth Street onto King Street. | Source: George Kelly/The Standard

Hours after a vigil in memory of a 4-year-old girl fatally struck by a vehicle at a San Francisco intersection, activists blocked off a turning lane.

In a post to the social media app formerly known as Twitter, an account for the Safe Street Rebel group shared an image and footage showing the addition of soft plastic FlexPost pipes and traffic cones to the right-most corner lane at the intersection.

"A week ago, a driver turning right at 4th/King killed for a four-year-old. Today at the vigil, [San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency] said it would take three weeks to do a 'quick build' to make the intersection safer," the post said.

"That's too long to wait. So we did our own quick build tonight and closed one of the turn lanes."

The girl had been riding in a stroller with her father and mother just blocks from Oracle Park around 5:15 p.m. Aug. 15 when the family entered the crosswalk at the intersection of King and Fourth streets, police said.

After they were struck, the child and both parents were transported to a local hospital, where police say the girl was pronounced dead and the father was treated for life-threatening injuries.

In a press release Monday that gave no firm dates for work scheduling, San Francisco Mayor London Breed said the Fourth and King streets intersection would see immediate safety improvements.

The plan calls for the city to remove one southbound right-turn lane from Fourth Street onto King Street, leaving only one lane of vehicles turning into the crosswalk instead of two. This will reduce the number of conflicts between turning cars and people in the crosswalk, the Mayor's Office said in the press release. 

The traffic signal will also be changed so drivers turning right from Fourth Street onto King Street see a yellow arrow instead of a green light. The arrow reinforces the requirement for drivers to yield to pedestrians.

San Francisco police officers tape off Fourth and King streets as they gather evidence after a car hit a family near Oracle Park on Aug. 15, 2023. | Source: Justin Katigbak/The Standard

Authorities arrested the driver of the vehicle that hit the little girl, Karen Cartagena, 71, in the hours after the crash, according to the San Francisco Police Department. The woman was arrested on suspicion of vehicle manslaughter and three counts of failing to yield to pedestrians, police said.

The intersection has a history of crashes, according to police data.

There were 14 car crashes that resulted in injury between Jan. 1, 2018, and March 31, 2023, at Fourth and King streets, according to data from the San Francisco Police Department. March 31 is the cutoff for the most recently available data from the city.

An SF Municipal Transportation Agency spokesperson and an email address associated with the Safe Streets Rebel did not respond to requests for comment by publication time.

George Kelly can be reached at gkelly@sfstandard.com

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