San Francisco News

New rules for Rec and Park after fatal accident

Thursday, October 10, 2013

San Francisco's Recreation and Park Department was on the hot seat Thursday at City Hall to explain its policies and procedures after the death of a young woman in a neighborhood park. The city has a fleet of around 700 vehicles for 220 neighborhood parks and now, there are some new rules for the drivers.

Christy Svanemyr, 35, was sitting on the grass, sunbathing, with her baby and dog at Holly Park when a park maintenance vehicle struck and killed her. Fresh flowers were on display at Holly Park Thursday, part of the neighbors ongoing tribute for Svanemyr. Her death is leading to a change in safety rules.

"We want people driving no faster than people can walk. We want lights on, hazarda and headlights on, and we're going to be outfitting our vehicles with oral signals," said Recreation and Park Director Phil Ginsburg. He says another goal is to use smaller vehicles that would do less damage and he says the entire department has been retrained on safety regulations.

According to Ginsburg, the gardener expected to be charged in the case, Thomas Burnoski, had 25 training sessions since 2006, yet violated policy by driving off a service road and onto the grass without having another employee guide him.

City Supervisor David Campos believes the public's trust has been shaken and called for answers at a hearing Thursday. "Even if we have the right policies in place, if we change the rules so that the right rules are in place, how do we make sure that they're actually followed?" he asked.

That was a key question at the vigil held one week ago today by the victim's friends, family, and neighbors. Organizers say they met with the Recreation and Park director Wednesday, so no one attended Thursday's City Hall hearing.

Burnoski's attorney did and he says what happened was an accident.

The city is now trying to make sure it doesn't happen again.

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hit and run, crime, san francisco news, carolyn tyler
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