SAN FRANCISCO—On Friday, June 1, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon revealed that Jennie Zhu, 63, of San Francisco was found guilty by a jury on all counts, including gross vehicular manslaughter and reckless driving. According to a press release from the SFDA’s Office, the incident resulted in the death of a 16-year-old boy and serious injuries to his mother and sister.
“Our city is increasingly congested, and that makes recklessly operating a vehicle more dangerous than ever,” said Gascón. “This verdict is a reminder that driving at dangerous speeds turns your vehicle into a deadly weapon, and that puts everyone at risk.”
According to court records, on September 27, 2013, at approximately 7:00 a.m., Zhu was driving her vehicle, a Mercedes SUV, at a high rate of speed in the area of Pine and Polk Streets. She continued to the intersection at Pine and Polk, speeding by officers in a patrol vehicle in the vicinity. Officers followed Zhu, whose SUV sped a block ahead to Pine and Van Ness. Officers observed Zhu traveling over the posted speed limit of 25 MPH at a rate faster than their own patrol vehicle, which was traveling between 35 and 40 MPH.
Authorities continued to follow Zhu, observing her change lanes and continue at a high rate of speed toward Pine and Van Ness. She continued to speed up Pine Street toward Pine and Gough where cars were stopped in each of the three lanes at the traffic light. As Zhu approached, she shifted to the right into the number three lane with no place to go and crashed into a gold colored minivan, a Chevy Venture, with three members of a family inside. Zhu’s SUV hit the rear of the minivan before going airborne and making contact with another car parked against the curb. The defendant’s SUV was on its right side. The Chevy Venture was severely crushed and on its side. A nearby SF Muni Bus, an unoccupied parked Mitsubishi Montero, and a white van were involved in the collision. The white van was pushed into the intersection as a result of the impact from Zhu’s SUV.
One victim inside the Chevy Venture, a 16-year-old teenager, suffered a fatal head injury and died at the scene. His mother suffered head trauma, as well as neck and back injuries, and was transported by ambulance to a local hospital. The third occupant, his sister, suffered multiple fractures and was transported by ambulance to a hospital. Others involved in the collision were transported from the scene, but did not sustain significant injuries. Zhu was transported to a hospital for treatment.
Several witnesses at the scene corroborated that Zhu was traveling at a high rate of speed and changing lanes as she approached the intersection at Pine and Gough. Numerous officers in the area of the collision confirmed the same. Video footage from near the location of the collision captured the crash. Additional surveillance videos from different locations along Pine Street showed Zhu traveling at a considerably higher rate of speed than all other traffic in the region. Investigations conducted by the lead investigator, CHP’s Multidisciplinary Accident Investigation Team, and a third-party consultant showed that Zhu, who was driving her Mercedes SUV, was responsible for the collision.
“The family showed remarkable strength and courage over the pendency of this case,” said Assistant District Attorney Rani Singh. “They lost a loved one and saw two family members endure life-altering injuries. Today’s verdict cannot bring their son’s life back or undo their trauma, but I hope it provides them with some sense of solace and sends a clear message to drivers to operate their vehicles safely, for their safety and others.”