Wednesday News Roundup
News Roundup for Wednesday, July 13, 2016
Settlement for Lawsuit Involving an Intoxicated San Francisco Firefighter
San Francisco could pay nearly $5 million to settle a lawsuit filedby a man injured in a collision with a fire truck driven by an allegedly intoxicated firefighter.
Jack Frazier filed suit against the city in October 2013 following
a collision involving a fire truck in the city’s South of Market neighborhood
on June 29, 2013.
Frazier, who was on a motorcycle, suffered serious injuries in the
crash that occurred around 11:30 p.m. at Fifth and Howard streets.
Police arrested firefighter Michael Quinn after the crash on suspicion
of DUI and leaving the scene of a collision.
It was not until March 2014 that he was indicted by a grand jury
on three felony counts of driving under the influence causing injury, driving
with a blood-alcohol content of .08 or higher causing injury and driving a
commercial motor vehicle with a blood-alcohol content of .04 percent or
higher causing injury.
In March 2015, however, a judge ruled that blood-alcohol level
tests administered after the collision were inadmissible as evidence. An
appeal of that ruling filed by prosecutors has since been denied, but the
criminal case against Quinn is still proceeding, according to district
attorney’s office spokesman Max Szabo.
Quinn took a breathalyzer test administered by the fire department
at the scene, but that test was not considered admissible because the
department’s breathalyzer devices are not calibrated to police standards.
Police did not administer a breathalyzer test of their own until some time
after the collision.
Frazier’s attorney has previously said that Quinn, who resigned
from the San Francisco Fire Department after the collision, allegedly left
the scene after the crash and was seen drinking water with colleagues at a
pub nearby in an effort to sober up.
The San Francisco City Attorney’s Office has proposed to settle
the lawsuit for $4.99 million, with $10,000 to be paid personally by Quinn.
The settlement must be approved by the Board of Supervisors before it is
Supervisor John Avalos said Tuesday that in light of the proposed
settlement, he planned to call for a hearing in the board’s Government Audit
and Oversight Committee on what steps the fire department has taken to
prevent on-duty drinking and ensure accountability for those who do.
Seventh Spare the Air Alert Issued for the Bay Area This Summer
A second straight Spare the Air alert has been issued for Thursday
in the Bay Area, air quality officials said.
The alert issued by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District
is a result of forecasted high levels of ozone pollution caused by high
temperatures, low winds combining with vehicle exhaust.
The alert, following today’s, will be the seventh of the summer
season, according to the air district.
Ozone, otherwise known as smog, can cause throat irritation, chest
pain and other medical problems. Air district officials advise people on
Spare the Air days to limit outdoor exercise to the early morning hours when
ozone levels are lower.
Residents are also encouraged to take public transit, carpool, or
find another way to commute rather than driving in a car alone. People can
visit www.stacommutetips.org to find a list of commute programs and
incentives available in the Bay Area.
Twin Peaks Lookout Area Undergoes Safety Reform
Part of San Francisco’s Twin Peaks lookout area is going car-free
as part of a two-year pilot project to make the popular tourist destination
safer for pedestrians and bicyclists.
Starting today, the eastern half of the “figure 8” roadway loop
will be open only to pedestrians and bicyclists, while the western half will
switch from one-way to two-way vehicle traffic, according to the San
Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.
The project, approved by the SFMTA board in April, will also add
legal parking spaces at the center and south intersections to deal with
illegal parking that was already occurring.The new designations will be
marked with paint and temporary barriers.
Over the next year, the SFMTA will evaluate the changes by
counting the number of vehicles on the road, observing traffic patterns and
parking behavior, taking speed surveys and conducting surveys of people using
the area. Those findings will be used to develop a permanent plan for the