Public Safety

Pedestrian Killed on Ocean Avenue Spurs Call for Safety Improvements

Friends and family members of Candida Duazo hold a candlelight vigil at Ocean Avenue and Victoria Street where Duazo was struck by a vehicle while crossing the street and died of her injuries April 17. NANCY CHAN/INGLESIDE-EXCELSIOR LIGHT

Family, friends and acquaintances of the late Candida “Candi” Duazo held a candlelight vigil in her memory on April 21 and discussed measures that could prevent another pedestrian death on the corner of Ocean Avenue and Victoria Street.

Led by Estelle Oloresisimo, president of the Fil-Am Friendship Network (FAFNET), the group recited the rosary prayer near the Ingleside Terrace pillars — where Duazo was hit by a driver and eventually succumbed to her injuries on April 17.

Duazo had been walking from St. Emydius Catholic Church back to her Ocean Avenue home during a green light.

“She walked to church every day,” longtime friend Olivia Fiel-Perealta said, calling the 80-year-old “very traveled.”

A regular parishioner, Duazo has the distinction of being the first Filipina opera singer hired by the San Francisco Opera in 1970. She performed as a spinto soprano chorister for 25 years.

Fiel-Perealta met Duazo through their parents’s friendships and was also her singing student.

“Candi was tough,” Fiel-Perealta said. “At the opera they called her ‘The Tough Lady.’ She stayed there until she found out she was losing her voice. Then she said she didn’t want to be fired, so she quit first.”

Duazo’s eldest son Dino reaffirmed his mother’s strength. “She was a strong woman with a lot of pride, a high profile and devotion for her family,” he said.

Her death stirred overall concern for the increased presence of traffic and cars in the neighborhood — and that there’s a long way to go before road safety policy Vision Zero is fully realized.

In December 2017, the Light reported the death of 63-year-old Elvira Natividad, who was hit by a driver at the intersection of Ocean and Miramar avenues. Her death helped prompt the intersection’s inclusion in Vision Zero’s High Injury Network.

Ocean Avenue and Victoria Street remains excluded. According to an email from San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Chief Spokesperson Paul Rose, the section of Ocean Avenue from Phelan Avenue to Ashton Avenue does not reach the Vision Zero High Injury Network threshold of at least seven fatal or severe injuries per mile to be included.

Taraval Police Station Capt. Robert Yick  said an investigation is still underway and is being handled by the department’s Traffic Company at the time of publication.

Until then, arguments in favor of prioritizing pedestrian right of way on Ocean Avenue persist.

“These Ingleside [Terrace] pillars are hard to look around. They create blind spots,” Dino said. “They’re historical, so I’m not advocating to get rid of them, but there should be more solutions.”

Dino himself has a habit of making eye contact with drivers before crossing Ocean Avenue and Victoria Street.

“I’ve always worried before, but I never thought this would happen to my mother,” Dino continued.

He suggested adding flashing red lights to the pillars as well as changing people’s attitudes to increase pedestrian awareness on the road.

Both Dino and Oloresisimo expressed interest in supporting future events by Walk SF, a local advocacy organization for pedestrian safety.

“It seems like it’s been pedestrians versus cars,” Dino’s friend Kai Cheng said. “You really have to stress the importance of stop, look and drive. Since Ocean is a shopping residential area, there’s a lot of foot traffic. We need to slow down the speed limit, maybe even to 15 or 10 miles per hour in certain areas.”

Oscar Perealta, Fiel-Perealta’s husband, agreed with decreasing the speed limit and increasing signage to prevent drivers from going too fast.

FAFNET member Lota Torres-Clemente recommended “copy and pasting what Willow Glen in San Jose is doing” in reference to the downtown Los Gatos pedestrian flag system, where buckets containing neon orange flags are available on crosswalks. Pedestrians would take a flag and carry it to the other side to ensure drivers notice their presence while crossing.

Installing a four-way stop like the one by AMC Metreon 16 on 135 4th St. was mentioned by Dino’s friend Rick Edwards to emphasize pedestrian right of way.

“The idea of a four-way stop is that no cars can move first — only pedestrians move,” Edwards said.

“Immaculate Mary” was sung to conclude the vigil.

Duazo is survived by Dino, Tito and Rico, her three sons, as well as four grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

This article first appeared in the Ingleside-Excelsior Light’s May 2018 edition.

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