Sacramento pays $11 million after boy, 6, was hit by sedan and grandmother, 72, was killed in crosswalk
The city of Sacramento has paid $11 million to settle a lawsuit after a sedan hit a boy in 2018 and killed his grandmother on a dangerous crosswalk with no traffic lights.
QuiChang Zhu, 72, and her grandson Jian Hao Kuang were crossing the street on Freeport Boulevard at Oregon Drive in Sacramento, California, in January 2018 when a sedan hit them.
Zhu was killed and Kuang was left with permanent brain damage.
Sedan driver Gurdeep Chand Sidhu, 22, later turned himself in to police and was charged with a drive-thru felony.
Prior to the incident, the crosswalk had been removed through the city due to the high volume of traffic and the dangerous conditions it created for pedestrians and motorists alike.
The zebra crossing had been in existence at the intersection for four years, according to the Sacramento Bee.
However, black prints where the white rectangles were were visible to pedestrians, but not to motorists.
QuiChang Zhu, 72, and her grandson Jian Hao Kuang, 6, were crossing the street on Freeport Boulevard at Oregon Drive in Sacramento, California, in January 2018 when they were hit by a sedan driven by Gurdeep Chand Sidhu, 22. Sacramento had recently the zebra crossing (pictured) removed due to high traffic volume and dangerous conditions, but black imprints of the former zebra crossing were still visible to pedestrians. Due to the accident that killed Zhu, the city paid the family $11 million
The former zebra crossing (pictured on a local Bernard Perez’s phone) used to be decorated with warning signs warning pedestrians to be careful when crossing. The city later removed those signs to paint warning signs on the road ahead for motorists to see
“In fact, the markings left at this intersection had the perilous effect of being visible to pedestrians, giving the impression that the crossing was still intended as a marked pedestrian crossing, but not visible to oncoming motorists on Freeport Boulevard.” the lawsuit said.
In addition, the city also removed pedestrian warning signs to paint warnings for drivers further down the road, despite the intersection being near two schools: Centennial Christian Preschool and Sutterville Elementary School, where Kuang attended.
“In the past six to eight years, we’ve seen a lot of accidents,” Bernard Perez told the Sacramento Bee. ‘This should not happen.’
“On my property they cut off the ‘caution’, ‘walk carefully’ sign.”
Two years after the accident, the Sacramento City Council discussed the settlement behind closed doors on January 28, 2020. The results of the settlement were not made public after the meeting.
The payout was one of the largest such payouts in town
City attorney Susana Alcala Wood reported that the settlement will go to a special trust fund for Kuang, who will be unable to pursue permanent work in the future due to his injuries, the lawsuit said.
The accident happened near two schools, one of which Kuang attended, the Sutterville Elementary School
“As a Sacramento city attorney, it is often my responsibility to help reconcile deeply tragic events that befell the residents of our city,” Wood said.
“Our hearts go out to the Kuang family for the pain they have experienced and the losses they have suffered. The family settlement agreement was intended to include a special needs confidant who will ensure that Jian Hao Kuang is cared for throughout his life.”
She also said the city is working to make it safer and is working to “improve their safety.”
In addition to the city’s $11 million, the family — which included Kuang and Zhu’s two children — received $100,000 from sedan driver, Sidhu.
City spokesman Tim Swanson said the settlement may not have been discussed publicly because it was pending trial, may have violated attorneys/client privilege and the city council failed to take notifiable action against the lawsuit.
In addition to the $11 million, the driver Sidhu paid the family $100,000 in a settlement
The Executive Director of the First Amendment Coalition, David Snyder, said that even if there is no legal disclosure requirement, cities must announce settlements at public meetings when they are final — especially large payments.
“Because of the policy, I think every city should make a payment of this size public, especially since it’s (one of) the largest here,” Snyder told the Sacramento Bee.
“That’s a lot of money that would otherwise have been used to repair city streets, tackle the homelessness crisis and improve city services. The public has the right in any case to be informed of the amount and the underlying circumstances that led to such a payment.’
This is the second largest settlement payment the City of Sacramento has paid out, with the largest being $15 million in 2016 after a girl died at Camp Sacramento.