Woman Convicted of Gross Vehicular Manslaughter
News from the Office of District Attorney George Gascón
WOMAN CONVICTED OF GROSS VEHICULAR MANSLAUGHTER
SAN FRANCISCO – Today, District Attorney George Gascón announced that a jury found Jennie Zhu, age 63, of San Francisco, guilty on all counts, including gross vehicular manslaughter and reckless driving. 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 District Attorney George 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 am, Defendant Zhu was driving her vehicle, a Mercedes SUV, at a high rate of speed in the area of Pine and Polk Streets. Ms. Zhu continued to the intersection at Pine and Polk, speeding by officers in a patrol vehicle in the vicinity. The officers followed Zhu, whose SUV had sped a block ahead to Pine and Van Ness. The officers observed that Zhu was 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.
The officers 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 vehicles 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. She collided with 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 vehicle parked against the curb. Zhu's SUV was on its right side. The Chevy Venture was damaged so badly that it was partly on its side and severely crushed. A nearby SF Muni Bus, an unoccupied parked Mitsubishi Montero, and a white van were also 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 passed away at the scene. His mother suffered head trauma, as well as neck and back injuries, and was transported by ambulance to a nearby hospital. The third occupant, his sister, suffered multiple fractures and was also transported by ambulance to a hospital. Others involved in the collision were transported from the scene, but did not sustain significant injuries.
Defendant Zhu was also transported to a hospital.
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 also captured the crash. Additional surveillance videos from different locations along Pine Street showed Zhu traveling at a significantly higher rate of speed than all other traffic in the area. 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."
The Honorable Samuel Feng presided. This successful prosecution is the result of an excellent investigation conducted by San Francisco Police Department Sergeant Kevin Edison, CHP's Multidisciplinary Accident Investigation Team, and District Attorney Inspector Ted Martin. Special thanks to Victim Advocate Peter Huynh, Paralegal Lena Ku, and IT support staff members Morris Moore and D'Andre Lewis. Assistant District Attorney Rani Singh prosecuted the case.