San Francisco police have accused 29-year-old Kieran Brewer of killing 17-year-old Hanren Chang, a student at Lowell High School – they have charged him with a felony DUI and with vehicular manslaughter. It seems that Chang was attempting to cross Sloat Boulevard at Vale, an intersection within 8 blocks of 19th avenue, when she was struck by Brewer’s car.
Officer Gordon Shyy of the San Francisco Police said that the young girl was hit at around 11:20pm on Saturday night. He was quick to add that he did not know what Brewer’s blood alcohol level was at the time that the accident happened, but he did mention that Brewer remained at the scene of the accident and attempted to help the girl in some way. It is not known why such a young person was out walking around at such a late hour or whether or not she made proper use of the crosswalk at Vale and Sloat when she attempted to cross the road. In addition, that particular intersection does not have either stop signs or a traffic light, so there is little to alert oncoming traffic to pedestrians as they cross the road. The young girl died later in the hospital.
Felony DUIs connected with vehicular manslaughter charges are taken seriously in the state of California. CA Penal Code 191.5(b) covers “Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated” and prosecutors must be able to prove that Brewer, for example, had a BAC of .08 or higher before they may proceed further. When an individual is charged with this in particular, the offenses are merged together and, if convicted, Brewer will face penalties for the manslaughter alone; California prosecutors cannot sentence him separately for the DUI charge under this regulation.
In any case, the evidence for a case like Brewer’s is rarely cut and dry. The fact that Brewer remained after causing the accident will probably work in his favor. The simple truth is that it was late and the young girl may have crossed the road without waiting to look for oncoming traffic; Brewer may have simply had a few drinks out with friends while having dinner and may not have been intoxicated enough to have otherwise avoided this tragic death. The fact that there were no traffic lights or stop signs at the intersection in question will most likely also enter into Brewer’s defense.
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