Man Charged with Felony Vehicular Manslaughter for Holly Park Death

October 23, 2013

Contact: ADA Alex Bastian, DA Gascón’s Office, (415) 553-1931
Stephanie Ong Stillman, DA Gascón’s Office, (415) 553-1167 or (415) 740-5134

SAN FRANCISCO, CA: District Attorney George Gascón announced today that Thomas Burnoski, age 58, of San Francisco, was charged with felony vehicular manslaughter and felony hit and run for running over and killing a woman at Holly Park in the Bernal Heights neighborhood.

"We must ensure San Franciscans have the ultimate confidence in the safety of our parks. Christine Svanemyr was alongside her infant daughter and dog in Holly Park when this confidence was betrayed," said District Attorney Gascón. "This is a tragedy, and those that jeopardize the safety of our parks will be held accountable.”

According to court documents, the incident occurred on September 5, 2013, at approximately 2:10pm, at Holly Park. The defendant, a gardener at the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department, was driving a city vehicle, a Ford 250 truck through the park. The defendant was driving along a designated pathway towards the park exit when he made a right turn off the pathway and proceeded to drive downhill on a grassy area. The victim was lying down on the grass area with her baby and her small dog when the defendant fatally ran over the victim. The defendant did not stop and proceeded to exit the park.

The defendant was arraigned today on one count of felony vehicular manslaughter with a hit and run enhancement and one count of felony hit and run. He entered into a not guilty plea. His bail was reduced from 350k to 150k by the court. His next court date is in Department 9 on October 28, 2013 at 9am to set a preliminary hearing date. Assistant District Attorney Omid Talai is the prosecutor on the case.