Man charged in deadly San Francisco 8-car pileup

A suspect was charged Tuesday with several felonies in a deadly eight-car pileup in San Francisco.

Jerry Lyons, 31, was charged with vehicular manslaughter, DUI and hit-and-run in the collision at Lake Merced Boulevard and Higuera Avenue. He did not enter a plea and was ordered held without bail pending a detention hearing Thursday.

Authorities say Lyons was under the influence of a drug when he ran a red light in a stolen Ford Explorer and slammed into a group of cars, killing pedestrian Sheria Musyoka.

Musyoka leaves behind his wife and their young son.

In a statement, Lyons' attorney, Deputy Public Defender Martina Avalos said her client was innocent until proven guilty. "The principle not only protects Mr. Lyons' rights, but all of ours," Avalos said.

Back in December, the California Highway Patrol says Lyons was also drunk and ran a red light while in a stolen car. But San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin did not immediately file charges in that case, saying he was waiting for toxicology tests. Now that Lyons is in custody, he's now been charged with DUI in that earlier incident.

Tony Montoya, president of the San Francisco police union, said the DA should have acted more aggressively.

"Until he's ready to put a 'victims first"' policy out there, and not a 'suspects first' policy, unfortunately you're going to see crime go unchecked," Montoya said.

The crash has similarities to one on New Year's Eve, when police say Troy McAlister was also drunk and in a stolen car when he ran a red light at 2nd and Mission streets, killing two women.

Montoya questions whether both tragedies could have been prevented.

"Whether Mr. McAlister or Mr. Lyons had consequences or accountability for some of the prior stuff, maybe it would not have led up to where they were free," Montoya said.

But San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said, "Chesa Boudin, I don't see what his office could have done differently, quite candidly."

Wagstaffe, whose office charged Lyons with a number of unrelated misdemeanor crimes, says Lyons most likely would not have been in custody anyway because of the pandemic and legal requirements.

"Everybody knows that I'm the type that wants to - public safety, lock people up, it keeps us safe," Wagstaffe said. "I think Mr. Boudin's approach in this one, from everything I've been able to read, was absolutely reasonable."

Avalos, Lyons' attorney agreed, saying, "There was absolutely nothing excpetional, nor lenient about the fact he remained out of custody pending further investigation. It is the common procedure in every county in California and across the country, that people remain out of custody during that time, which often allows people to seek treatment for their underlying addictions - and this case was no exception."