A driver spun out of control Wednesday evening in the Mission District, leaving mangled cars in his wake — as well as a neighborhood of shaken residents who say traffic accidents and reckless driving are getting worse.
The driver of a blue sports car was seen doing donuts in the intersection at 21st and Alabama streets before abruptly reversing direction and driving south down the street, according to multiple eyewitnesses who declined to give their names.
Video obtained by Mission Local shows the driver entering the intersection of 22nd and Alabama at approximately 5:37 p.m., before accelerating sharply down the street and into a parked car.
Skid marks at the scene mark the driver’s chaotic trajectory onto the sidewalk in front of 2835 22nd St., after hitting the parked car and almost striking two pedestrians, who are seen running away from the crash in the video. A black car, possibly driven by a man who later claimed to be the driver’s uncle, is seen following the suspect.
Eyewitnesses, including this writer, later saw the suspect exit the damaged car and run north on Alabama Street.
The driver, who has not been identified, careered down the sidewalk, side-swiping a second car, before smashing into the back of an SUV owned by a woman who gave her name as Marita.
Nelly Perez, who lives at the northeast corner of 22nd and Florida streets, was at a nearby park with her young daughter when she received a frantic call from her husband, Miguel.
“Me and my daughter were at Parque Niños Unidos. We were there for five minutes, and then I got a call from my husband. He said, ‘Come home, come home; our car has been hit,’” said Perez, who was visibly shaken.
“My husband was in the house. He saw the guy coming down Alabama, and doing circles in the intersection, and then he saw him hit our car.”
Robert and Jacob Thumas, who live on 22nd Street, heard the commotion and ran outside.
“We heard the accident first,” said Robert Thumas “After that, we came outside to look. We saw the car, and then remembered we had a Ring video.”
Thumas feels that reckless driving has worsened on 22nd Street.
“These wide streets are known for people doing donuts on. I feel like it used to happen more at 2 or 3 in the morning, but now it’s happening in the afternoon. There’s no concern,” he said.
“There’s two schools right here. A teacher died down there just a couple months ago,” he said, gesturing towards Harrison and 22nd streets, where Abraham Joshua, a teacher at Mission Preparatory School, was killed by the driver of a large truck last March.
Thumas, along with other eyewitnesses, were later verbally accosted by a man who said he was the suspect’s uncle.
The man, who is unidentified, arrived at the scene of the accident shortly afterward, and immediately became verbally hostile to the owners of the cars that were struck by the suspect, threatening them and telling them to stop talking.
“All of you stop talking right now. I’m his uncle,” he said. “I know the driver. He’s my nephew. Shut the fuck up and let the police do their job!”
Witnesses later claimed the man had been driving behind the suspect through the neighborhood, an allegation supported by the video.
The man ultimately drove away, but not before physically threatening Thumas for sharing his video with the police.
“He called me a gentrifier,” said Thumas. “Please. I’ve lived here for 27 years. My great-grandparents owned this house. This isn’t a gentrification thing. This is a safety thing. It sounds like that guy doesn’t care about the neighborhood. And anyway, we all witnessed it. What is he going to do? Take on all 50 of us? I get he feels defensive because he knows the person who did this. But I can’t believe that he doesn’t get that driving like that threatens people’s lives.’”
At least one neighbor linked the crash with San Francisco’s longstanding Vision Zero policy.
“Cars drive super fast through that stop sign,” said Doug, who lives with his wife Anne near the southwest corner of 22nd and Florida streets. “We have this Vision Zero policy, and the city says it wants zero pedestrian deaths, but it’s done nothing to deter reckless driving.”
Steve Fong, a mystery writer and cyclist, often uses 22nd Street to commute. He also feels that reckless drivers are out of control.
“I am very disturbed by the traffic violence,” Fong said. “It’s an epidemic. You might think that 22nd Street would be immune to this kind of thing, but obviously not.”
Update, Aug. 19: Police offered the following narrative of yesterday’s incident:
On August 18, 2022 at approximately 5:40pm, San Francisco Police Officers assigned to Mission Station responded to 22nd Street and Alabama Street on a report of a vehicle collision in which one of the drivers had fled the scene.
Officer arrived on scene and located witnesses and several damaged vehicles. Officers were told that a vehicle was driving at a high rate of speed when it collided with several parked vehicles. The driver of the vehicle got out and fled the scene on foot.
No arrests have been made and this remains and open and active investigation. Anyone with information is asked to call the SFPD Tip Line at 1-415-575-4444 or Text a Tip to TIP411 and begin the text message with SFPD. You may remain anonymous.