San Francisco Big Wheel race under scrutiny after serious injury

April 3, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
The annual event "Bring Your Own Big Wheel" race in San Francisco's Potrero Hil neighborhood is being scrutinized after a crash left a spectator seriously injured.

Vermont Street has seven sharp turns, earning it the reputation as the world's most crooked street. In 2006, this even started out as a small event, but quickly grew into a major event that led to a major accident.

It happened quickly around a blind corner on the last turn of the annual Bring Your Own Big Wheel race. Shiho Schummer, 45, suffered a serious head injury.

"If she wouldn't have gone into emergency surgery right as we got her to the hospital, she would have died," said Ed Schummer, Shiho's husband.

Shiho had a fractured skull, even though at the scene she was conscious. Bystanders rushed to help her.

"My wife was there, taking pictures and all that stuff. She thought it was over and apparently walked across to see my daughter," said Ed.

Ed says the police told him they would not file a report because it happened on a closed race course.

"If you're walking across a closed race course and you get hit, it's kind of your fault. I don't know, that's the position they took," said Ed.

Organizers of the race could not speak on camera, but sent us a statement saying: "The guy who hit the first woman felt terrible. She just walked right in front of him and he couldn't avoid her."

"You take on certain risks when you're in an environment where things can happen and she certainly had to be aware if she was watching the race," said John Weston, a Vermont Street resident.

Residents along Vermont Street say race organizers have gone out of their way to ensure the safety of the participants, placing hay bales along the route and directing traffic.

"Considering how many years they've done it and how few incidents there have been, I don't really know what they could do to make it any better. They seem to have a pretty good policy with age groups in the beginning so you didn't have big people and little people together," said Ross Barringer, a neighborhood resident.

Participants sign a waiver in case of injuries, but spectators do not. Kyle Vanderbeek lives along the course and says the majority of injuries have been minor up until now.

"But they've typically been amongst bystanders and spectators because of the whole not paying attention, not staying off the course and the quickness from which the riders come up," said Vanderbeek.

The race has grown from about 30 people, in 2006, to more than 1,000 this weekend, raising the chances of more serious injuries. This weekend's incident took the Bring Your Own Big Wheel event to a new level.

Shiho is expected to survive her serious head injury. Ed says he is not interested in a lawsuit, but he does believe there is room for safety improvements.


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