Driver charged with felony vehicular manslaughter in SF crash that killed an entire family

San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins announced four counts of felony vehicular manslaughter charges against the driver who killed an entire family of four in the West Portal neighborhood in March. 

At a Tuesday news conference, presented by SFPD Chief Bill Scott and D.A. Jenkins, Scott said said there was no evidence of the driver's impairment and no evidence that the vehicle malfunctioned. 

D.A. Jenkins acknowledged it has taken time for the investigation to proceed and wanted investigators to flush out alternative causes such as a medical issue or an issue with the vehicle. 

On the afternoon of March 16, Mary Fong Lau, 79, crashed her SUV into a family waiting at a Muni bus stop at Ulloa Street and Lenox Way. The driver was arrested at the scene of the crash for three felony counts of vehicular manslaughter, driving the wrong way, reckless driving, and driving at an unsafe speed. Lau was hospitalized after the crash. She then retained a lawyer. 

The driver of the Mercedes SUV was arrested after three family members died at the West Portal Muni bus stop. 

The charges are for each of the deaths that occurred. The D.A. said this was a case of gross negligence and that excessive speed was a factor in the crash. "We are waiting for her arrest and to be taken into custody," Jenkins said. The D.A. said she expects Lau to be arraigned not too long after her arrest. 

"Lau is not in custody at this time, but we are presently working with Lau's attorney to bring her into custody," said Scott. He added that investigators developed probable cause to issue an arrest warrant signed by a San Francisco Superior Court judge. 

The district attorney had initially declined to press charges pending the investigation and toxicology reports. 

The family was identified as Diego Cardoso de Oliveira, a 40-year-old father, his wife, Matilde Moncada Ramos Pinto, 38, their 1-year-old, Joaquim, and his 3-month-old baby brother, Caue. The baby was the last survivor of the crash. The father was a citizen of Brazil. 

The city saw an outpouring of mourning for the family in the aftermath of the crash. 

Lau's attorney, Sam Geller, said he was informed this morning that formal charges would be filed against his client. 

Geller issued a statement following the news conference. 

"While this news is very difficult to take in, Ms. Lau appreciates that the District Attorney’s Office and SFPD didn’t rush in their decision making process and conducted a thorough investigation.

"This tragedy is something that Ms. Lau continues to mourn while she learns to live with this unspeakable reality. She extends her condolences to the entire family, friends and community of the Oliveira-Pinto family."

Geller said with this decision, that he and his client will review the evidence in this case and move forward with presenting Lau's defense. 

The crash was a tragic moment for the city that led to public outcry on street safety for pedestrians. City leaders acknowledged safety improvements needed to be made in the West Portal corridor. 

KTVU's Tori Gaines and Henry Lee contributed to this report. 


Baby dies from injuries in SF West Portal crash that killed parents, brother: SFPD

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