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Elderly driver arrested in horrific San Francisco bus stop crash that killed couple, child

Vigil held for victims of deadly San Francisco West Portal crash
Vigil held for victims of deadly San Francisco West Portal crash 02:40

The elderly driver of an SUV involved in a horrific crash at a San Francisco bus stop was arrested for vehicular manslaughter and other charges in the deaths of a couple and their toddler over the weekend, police sources told KPIX on Monday.

Jail records indicate the suspect driver, identified as 78-year-old Mary Fong Lau, was booked Sunday afternoon on charges of vehicular manslaughter, reckless driving, reckless driving with bodily injury, driving the wrong way on a divided road, and driving at an unsafe speed.  

Friends of the victims of Saturday's crash near West Portal station identified them as a family of four on an outing to celebrate the parents' wedding anniversary. Police announced on Sunday a third victim in the crash, the mother, died from her injuries. Only her infant, a baby boy, survived with critical injuries. 

CBS News Bay Area learned on Wednesday that the infant had also died, raising the death toll in the terrible accident to four.    

Following the crash, the driver was also taken to the hospital in stable condition. Some witnesses told police they believed she suffered from some kind of medical condition and crashed into the bus shelter. Police have not confirmed that.

San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said in a statement her office has been in touch with the victims' family who have asked for privacy, and that police have probable cause to arrest Lau.

"While I understand that there is an immediate desire to know what ultimately will happen in this case, I ask for patience from the public as investigators continue to gather more information so that my office can make appropriate charging decisions," said Jenkins. "The extent and nature of any criminal liability depends on many factors. For example, toxicology results alone can take more than 30 days to obtain and, vehicle operating systems will need to be carefully analyzed by experts and assessed to determine whether mechanical issues may have played a role in this incident."

The crash happened Saturday afternoon near the West Portal Muni station on Ulloa Street. Authorities said a car plowed into a bus stop, hitting four people waiting for the bus.

Police at the scene of a fatal crash at a San Francisco bus stop near the West Portal station, March 16, 2024. KPIX

Friends of the victims declined an on-camera interview but shared some details of the victims. They said the father was named Diego, 40, and the mother was named Matilde, 38. They did not want to provide the victims' last names. Their toddler, a boy about one and a half years old, died at the scene. 

The infant is about two months old. Paramedics rushed him to the hospital and police said the child suffers from life-threatening injuries.

Friends said the family lived in the Mission District. They said Saturday was Diego and Matilde's wedding anniversary and they were taking the bus to celebrate the anniversary with the boys at the San Francisco Zoo.

"How can a car race so fast and end up taking out an entire bus stop?" asked neighbor Johanna Dimayuga.

Witnesses said the driver was going between 50 and 70 miles per hour in the wrong direction on Ulloa Street. They said there were no signs of braking and no skid marks on the road.

S.F. West Portal neighborhood stunned by horrific fatal crash 03:41

"It's just very heartbreaking. It's very difficult for us to unsee what we saw here yesterday," said Dimayuga. "I'm still shaking just thinking about it."

Dimayuga was among the many that came to pay her respects. She lives across the street from the bus stop and ran out when she heard the crash on Saturday.

"I am just unable to move forward. I need to have closure with what I saw," said Dimayuga. "I can't really unsee the carnage that happened here yesterday."

Witnesses, neighbors, and well-wishers dropped off flowers, stuffed animals, and toys at the bus stop. Street safety advocates left a white stroller and three pairs of shoes at the make-shift memorial, one for each victim that died in the crash.

They also left flowers at a second smaller memorial about 60 feet from the bus stop. That was where the toddler landed and died. Witnesses said the impact of the crash sent the toddler, who was in a stroller, into the air.

"The stroller was clearly destroyed. Yeah, so he was still strapped in there," said Dimayuga.

The father landed about 80 feet away from the point of impact and died. Paramedics rushed the mom and the baby to the hospital. Authorities said on Sunday the mom died from her injuries.

"You just want to hug your kids closer and just really be mindful of every single moment you have with each other," said neighbor Michelle McCauley who brought her husband and kids to the memorial.

San Francisco police said they do not believe that traffic engineering was a factor in this case.  

Friends said Diego was originally from Brazil and his family is flying to San Francisco. They said Matilde was originally from Portugal and her family is flying to the Bay Area as well.

Street safety advocates held a vigil at the site of the crash on Monday at 5 p.m.

San Francisco officials on Tuesday confirmed the identity of the family members killed.

The San Francisco office of the Chief Medical Examiner sent out a release Tuesday morning that identified the victims killed in the crash as the father, 40-year-old Diego Cardoso de Oliveira, 38-year-old mother Matilde Moncada Ramos Pinto, and their toddler son, one-year-old Joaquin Ramos Pinto de Oliveira. All three are San Francisco residents.  

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