Pedicab fatality under investigation (San Diego)

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Pedicab fatality under investigation
By Karen Kucher
Union-Tribune Staff Writer

2:24 p.m. July 6, 2009

SAN DIEGO — Police are investigating a 23-year-old pedicab driver for possible misdemeanor manslaughter charges after he rode in an erratic manner and a woman fell from the pedicab, according to a police spokeswoman.

The 60-year-old retired teacher has since been declared brain dead, officials said.

Police are continuing to investigate the case and will present their findings to the city attorney’s office for possible prosecution, said Monica Muñoz.

Officials said Sharon Miller, 60, slipped out of a pedicab and struck her head on the ground shortly before noon on the Fourth of July. Miller, from Illinois, was in town with her husband, who is attending the National Education Conference at the San Diego Convention Center.

According to the county Medical Examiner’s Office, Miller was transported to UCSD Medical Center with a head injury and pronounced brain dead Sunday. Her family chose to keep her on life support pending organ donation.

The pedicab driver, who was registered with the city, is from Turkey and in the country on a valid four-month visa. He owned the pedicab and was not employed by a company, Muñoz said.

His name was not released.

Miller, who was riding in the pedicab with a friend, fell onto the Martin Luther King Promenade, a pathway on the north side of the trolley tracks that runs parallel to Harbor Drive near First Avenue, Muñoz said.

“He was in an area that was clearly marked for pedestrians only and he was driving in an unsafe manner,” she said. “It is strictly a pedestrian pathway. No bicycles, just pedestrians.”

Muñoz also said the pedicab driver was operating in “a serpentine pattern, left to right, left to right” when the woman fell. He also did not have seat belts in his pedicab, which he was required by law, she said.

“That’s not safe,” she said. “He just exercised bad judgment.”

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