Conflicting Reports Emerge About Latest Muni Death

Latest incident could add to Muni's troubling record

Thursday, Sep 10, 2009  |  Updated 11:20 PM PDT
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Raw Video of the Muni Crash

Joey Parsons via Flickr

The Muni train on Church Street was not zooming as fast as this file photo on Thursday morning after another fatal accident.

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Police are investigating the death of a 58-year-old man who may have been hit by a San Francisco Municipal Railway light-rail vehicle Thursday morning.

Initial reports were the man was struck by the train but there are differying reports coming forward.

Emergency responders found the man, identified by the San Francisco medical examiner's office as William Nelson, on the ground near the intersection of Church and 22nd streets shortly after 9 a.m., police Sgt. Wilfred Williams said.

He was taken to San Francisco General Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 9:29 a.m., Williams said.
Muni officials said this evening that investigators have reviewed onboard video and that a man resembling Nelson got off an outbound S-Castro shuttle shortly before the accident.

The man exited the shuttle at a Muni stop just before Church and 22nd streets and appears to have walked 20 to 30 feet alongside the train, according to Muni.

The light-rail vehicle then began to move and it appears the man fell, as he is no longer visible in the video, according to the transit
agency. Muni officials are withholding the video from the public for the time being in order to protect the Police Department's investigation.

The video indicates that passengers on the rear of the train seemed to know something had happened, but that no one alerted the Muni operator, according to Muni. The operator did not report the incident to Muni  Central Control.

The death comes as a slew of recent, high-profile crashes has put Muni leaders on the hot seat and just few weeks after a slow speed crash involving a Muni bus sent a woman to the hospital. The City also recently began looking into improving Muni's performance across San Francisco as it plans to rely on the service more in a push to move the City away from cars by 2030.

San Francisco Metropolitan Transportation Agency executive director Nathaniel Ford offered his condolences to Nelson's loved ones.

"Our thoughts are with his family and friends,'' Ford said in a statement. "We will continue to work closely with the police on this
investigation to get to the bottom of what happened.''

Service was disrupted on Muni's J-Church line for nearly three hours after the man was found.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

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