Muni accident victim remembered as 'wonderful man'

A statement of condolence was issued by Muni on Thursday to the friends and family of Scott Whitsett.

April 23, 2010 5:28:46 PM PDT
A statement of condolence was issued by Muni on Thursday to the friends and family of Scott Whitsett. He died in that fatal bus crash in downtown San Francisco on Wednesday afternoon.

Ted Garza still does not know the unfortunate details of yesterday's fatal Muni accident in San Francisco, nor does he want to. The 49-year-old Whitsett was his husband.

The look on Garza's tearful face serves as stark contrast to the big smiles that he and Scott shared in a picture on their wedding day in San Francisco on October 29, 2008.

"He never said a bad word about anyone. That's one of the reasons I fell in love with him," he said.

Whitsett died on Wednesday afternoon. He was trying to catch a cab on Mission Street, stepped behind a parked Muni bus and was hit by another that impaled him on a bicycle rack before crushing him between the two.

Muni has suspended driver Kimberly Johnson pending an investigation. She told police that she accidently hit the gas instead of the brake. Johnson has been a Muni operator since April 2008.

San Francisco police have asked for videos from both buses along with more videos from surveillance cameras around the neighborhood. The department would not comment about what those tapes show.

What makes this difficult for the San Francisco Metropolitan Transportation Commission is that this accident comes at a time of increased public scrutiny due to budget cuts and service cutbacks.

On average, the agency pays out almost $10 million a year for injuries, wrongful deaths, and property damage.

Records show this was the first pedestrian fatality of the year. There were two last year, four the year before and eight the year before that.

Whitsett was a regular Muni rider who often took the bus from his house in Diamond Heights. He was an attorney who had become a government consultant at LexisNexis, and led a team of 11 people.

"Everybody liked Scott," said his friend Peter Harrison, who took a red-eye from New York with his wife as soon as he heard the news. "Scott was smart, funny, nice, and volunteered in the community."

He was especially active with Lambda Legal Defense, a group of attorneys who volunteer to protect gay issues.

"He was a very thoughtful guy, never to jump to a decision. Very reliable guy. Very generous," said Harrison.

"He was an amazing man," said Garza.

The couple had just put in a bid to buy a new house. "Scott died before they responded. And I'm still waiting."


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