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San Francisco State student identified as man killed in rollover crash on I-280

A boy poses for a photo.
Alex Kauffman, 22, was killed in a March 9 crash when his car rolled down an embankment along I-280 in San Francisco. | Source: Courtesy Richard Kauffman

A man killed in a rollover crash earlier this month has been identified as a 22-year-old San Francisco State University student who was studying journalism, authorities, his family and school officials said.

Alex Kauffman died after his car hit a guardrail on Interstate 280 and rolled down a steep embankment early in the morning on March 9, his father, Richard Kauffman, said. The San Francisco Office of the Chief Medical Examiner identified Alex as the person killed in the crash on Wednesday.

CHP Officer Mark Andrews said the crash happened on northbound I-280 just south of the Mission Street overpass at 2:08 a.m. and that the victim’s car went over the guardrail and down an embankment before coming to a stop between the freeway and a nearby city street.

Andrews said the crash was first reported to CHP by the San Francisco Police Department at 9:47 a.m. and officers responded a few minutes later. The victim was pronounced dead by fire department medics at 10:39 a.m., Andrews said.

Kauffman said he learned about his son’s death after a friend of Alex’s reached out and asked that he check on him because she hadn’t heard from him in 24 hours. Kauffman then tracked the location of his son’s phone as being near the medical examiner’s office.

“Then we called the coroner, and that was it,” Kauffman said.

‘A great guy’

Kauffman said his son was an energetic, early riser who developed a passion for journalism at a young age, watching newscasts during breakfast when he was just 6 years old.

Alex transferred to San Francisco State in the fall of 2022 and was studying journalism full-time in hopes of becoming a news anchor, his dad said. At the time of his death, Alex was also working part-time at Sweet Maria’s Coffee, a wholesaler coffee roaster in Oakland.

Kauffman said his son had recently moved out of the family’s home in Oakland and was living in Berkeley with a roommate.

The 22-year-old loved country music and was a Raiders fan, his dad said.

“He was a great guy,” Kauffman said. “He liked to keep busy.”

A memorial service honoring Alex’s life was held at Temple Beth Abraham in Oakland on March 17.

Jesse Garnier, chair of San Francisco State’s journalism department, said Alex was a junior and transferred to the school from the University of Puget Sound in Washington state.

Garnier said students hope to hold a vigil for Alex in the near future, adding that he’s spoken to at least half a dozen students who said they feel personally affected by his death.

“We were looking forward to getting to know him,” Garnier said. “It’s always tough to reconcile when someone’s journey is cut short.”