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Vehicular Manslaughter Verdict In Horrific 2013 San Francisco Crash

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- A jury Friday found a 63-year-old San Francisco woman guilty of gross vehicular manslaughter, reckless driving and other charges in a horrific Polk Gulch crash in Sept. 2013 that left a 16-year-old dead and his mother and sister seriously injured, authorities said.

District Attorney George Gascón announced the verdict delivered in the Jennie Zhu case.

"Our city is increasingly congested, and that makes recklessly operating a vehicle more dangerous than ever," Gascón said in a release. "This verdict is a reminder that driving at dangerous speeds turns your vehicle into a deadly weapon, and that puts everyone at risk."

Authorities said that Zhu was driving her Mercedes SUV at a high rate of speed in the area of Pine and Polk Streets at 7 a.m. on Sept. 27, 2013. Officers in a patrol vehicle saw her and attempted to catch with the speeding SUV.

The officers said that Zhu was traveling over the posted speed limit of 25 mph at a rate faster than their own patrol vehicle, which was traveling between 35 and 40 mph.

The officers continued to follow Zhu, observing her change lanes and continue at a high rate of speed toward Pine and Van Ness.

Authorities said she continued to speed up Pine Street toward Pine and Gough where vehicles were stopped in each of the three lanes at the traffic light. As Zhu approached, she shifted to the right into the number three lane with no place to go.

She collided with a Chevy Venture mini-van with three members of a family inside. Zhu's SUV hit the rear of the minivan before going airborne and making contact with another vehicle parked against the curb.

Zhu's SUV was on its right side. The Chevy Venture was damaged so badly that it was partly on its side and severely crushed. A nearby SF Muni Bus, an unoccupied parked Mitsubishi Montero, and a white van were also involved in the collision.

One victim inside the Chevy Venture, 16-year-old Kevin San, suffered a fatal head injury and passed away at the scene. His mother suffered head trauma, as well as neck and back injuries, and was transported by ambulance to a nearby hospital.

His sister suffered multiple fractures and was also transported by ambulance to a hospital. Others involved in the collision were transported from the scene, but did not sustain significant injuries.

Zhu was also transported to a hospital.

Several witnesses at the scene corroborated that Zhu was traveling at a high rate of speed and changing lanes as she approached the intersection at Pine and Gough. Video footage from near the location of the collision also captured the crash.

"The family showed remarkable strength and courage over the pendency of this case," said Assistant District Attorney Rani Singh. "They lost a loved one and saw two family members endure life-altering injuries. Today's verdict cannot bring their son's life back or undo their trauma, but I hope it provides them with some sense of solace and sends a clear message to drivers to operate their vehicles safely, for their safety and others."

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