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Child and adult killed, 3 others injured when car smashes into bus shelter in West Portal

Police responding to car collision
A smashed vehicle is seen in front of the West Portal library on Saturday, left. Two victims, one of them a child were pronounced dead on the scene. | Source: Courtesy Alan Burradell

A busy commercial corridor at the mouth of the West Portal Muni station was the site of a deadly collision on Saturday when two pedestrians—one a child—were killed and three others were injured after an SUV drove onto a sidewalk and crashed into a bus shelter.

Police responded to the incident around 12:12 p.m. at the intersection of Ulloa Street and Lenox Way, according to authorities.

When officers arrived, one child and one adult were in critical condition. They were pronounced dead at the scene, while three others, including the driver, were taken to a local hospital.

"What happened was a real tragedy," Mayor London Breed said during a press conference at the scene. "Our goal is that we are reaching out to the families. ... We are hopeful and prayerful that they will all pull through from this very tragic incident."

San Francisco police ordered traffic to stay away from the area between Claremont, Wawona, Vicente and Ulloa Streets. It is unclear when the West Portal Muni Station would reopen for service.

Police cordon off the area of a fatal collision which killed a child and adult while injuring three others including the driver near Ulloa Street and Lenox Way.
Police cordon off the area of a fatal collision that killed a child and adult while injuring three others, including the driver, near Ulloa Street and Lenox Way. | Source: Joel Umanzor/The Standard

"This is an active investigation, and it's going to take a while to sort it out and figure out exactly what happened," Assistant Police Chief David Lazar said. "We need to determine what the victims were doing and what the driver was doing. It's going to take a little while."

“I’ve lived in this neighborhood almost my whole life,” West Portal resident Doris Barker told The Standard. “I heard the commotion but didn’t realize how bad the crash was.”

Barker said that typically drivers will move with caution at the intersection near the West Portal station due to how many stop signs surround it. “I just hope it wasn’t anything with alcohol or drugs involved,” she said.

Another resident, who identified himself as John, said that he wouldn’t describe the intersection as hectic but busy. “You have a lot of pedestrians and folks walking around the neighborhood or going onto Muni,” he said. “It’s one of those areas that is saturated with people, especially on a nice day like today.”

Luke Bornheimer, a San Francisco transportation activist, said in a statement tweeted out Saturday that the incident is indicative of the perils of the busy intersection near the West Portal Station.

"This crash and the related fatalities were preventable with better street design," Bornheimer wrote. "SFMTA should close this intersection to all car traffic indefinitely while it studies improvements to not only prevent future crashes, but to improve speed and reliability of public transportation in and around West Portal."

When asked if Saturday's incident is a setback to the city's quest for Vision Zero, a city initiative started in 2014 that aimed to end traffic deaths by 2024 by installing more protections for pedestrians and cyclists, Breed said it is critical to wait for the investigation to be completed.

"As the case with every situation like this, we are in the process of evaluating the area and the challenges that might exist in the area and the ways we can improve," she said. "I'm not sure that this particular incident fits in the scope of that problem around Vision Zero, but our goal is to make sure we are doing everything we can to ensure the safety of people in this city."

Jon Steinberg can be reached at jsteinberg@sfstandard.com