The white sedan that was filmed speeding through the barricade on a dead-end street — and flying off the Sanchez Street stairs, flipping over in mid-air, hitting several trees, and crashing onto the sidewalk below — was stolen by force from a driver just minutes earlier, according to a witness.
A neighbor on Church Street near 20th Street who had a “bird’s-eye view” of the incident said she was at home Saturday evening when she heard “yelling that didn’t stop” coming from the street below. She went to her window, looked out, and saw a group of people chasing a man.
The assailants were “trying to hit him with their skateboards,” said the neighbor, who asked to remain anonymous. She said one of the assailants swung at the man with a skateboard and struck him, causing him to fall and roll down a small embankment separating Church Street from the Muni tracks nearby.
“He starts yelling, and so I keep watching, and they get in and drive away,” she said of the assailants. The victim “was freaking out: ‘Hey, they’re stealing my car, stop them!’ and then he was sort of trying to chase them,” she said.
She said the group in the stolen sedan, a four-door Lincoln, drove uphill on Church toward 20th Street, turning left but getting stuck in the intersection — a crowded one during Dolores Park weekends, with cars often lined up, making a quick getaway difficult.
The owner of the car chased the group uphill on foot, she said, and tried to open one of the car’s doors.
“He got the back door open, and they slammed on the gas. He got thrown down and hit by the door,” she said. “It was total chaos.”
After the car’s occupants shook off the owner, they first tried to continue east on 20th Street before turning around and heading west, towards Sanchez Street, the neighbor said. It was just seconds after this that the car turned onto a dead-end portion of Sanchez Street at high speed and flew through a fence and over the top of the mini-park, crushing several trees on the way down and landing on the sidewalk roof-side down, according to home surveillance footage.
The eyewitness took a picture of the carjacking at 7:16 p.m. By 7:18 p.m., the car had sped off the staircase and crashed into the street below.
The San Francisco Police Department said no suspects had yet been arrested.
Mission High School
The thieves crashed into a
barrier and flew down the
Sanchez St. steps, flipping
the car and then fleeing on foot.
A group of thieves allegedly
hit a man with a skateboard
and stole his white Lincoln.
They rapidly drove west and
then north up Sanchez St.
They started east down 20th
St. but turned west when blocked
by cars and pedestrians.
They rapidly drove
west and then north
up Sanchez St.
The thieves crashed
into a barrier and flew
down the Sanchez St.
steps, flipping the car
and then fleeing on foot.
A group of thieves
allegedly hit a man
with a skateboard
and stole his
They started east
down 20th St. but
turned west when
blocked by cars
Map by Will Jarrett. Basemap from Mapbox.
In surveillance footage of the crash aftermath, five occupants of the allegedly stolen car exit the vehicle, with the help of passers-by. They all flee the scene, some saying, “I’m sorry, we gotta go” and leaving the other occupants behind.
The eyewitness said that, after the carjacking, the owner was pacing around the street, seemingly in shock. She noted that, a few minutes after the crash, the owner flagged a passing police squad car, which drove him to his marooned vehicle.
SFPD confirmed that officers at the scene were approached by the car’s owner after a carjacking, but reported the incident across the park, at 19th and Dolores streets. District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, who represents the area, said that he had also “heard it was a carjacking” but had no other information.
The entire incident was “out of character for the park,” the neighbor added, saying the carjacking was ill-advised, given the crowds congregating at Dolores on a sunny weekend.
“Logistically, it’s terrible. There isn’t really a great getaway on the weekend here,” she said. “This is definitely one of those neighborhoods where everyone has their Nest cams.”
She did point to other recent incidents at the park, however, as a sign of the times: A shooting on April 20 at the footbridge heading into the park, and the police response to the Dolores hill bomb skateboarders just two weeks ago.
“I need an OSHA sign that says, ‘There’s been this many days since a Dolores Park incident.’”