The City of Sacramento has paid $11million to settle a lawsuit after a sedan hit a boy and killed his grandmother in 2018 at a dangerous crosswalk which did not have any traffic lights.
QuiChang Zhu, 72, and her grandson Jian Hao Kuang were crossing the street at Freeport Boulevard at Oregon Drive in Sacramento, California, in January 2018 when a sedan struck them.
Zhu was killed and Kuang was left with permanent brain damage.
The sedan driver Gurdeep Chand Sidhu, 22, later turned himself over to the police and was booked for a felony hit-and-run.
Prior to the incident, the crosswalk had been removed by the city due to the high volume of traffic and the dangerous conditions it left for both pedestrians and motorists.
The crosswalk had existed at the intersection for four years, according to the Sacramento Bee.
However, black imprints where the white rectangles were were visible to pedestrians, but not for motorists.
QuiChang Zhu, 72, and her grandson Jian Hao Kuang, 6, were crossing the street at Freeport Boulevard at Oregon Drive in Sacramento, California, in January 2018 when they were struck by a sedan driven by Gurdeep Chand Sidhu, 22. The City of Sacramento had recently removed the crosswalk (pictured) due to the high traffic volume and dangerous conditions, but black imprints of the former crosswalk was still visible to pedestrians. Due to the accident, which killed Zhu, the city paid the family $11million
The former crosswalk (pictured on a local Bernard Perez’s phone) used to be adorned with warning signs cautioning pedestrians to be careful while crossing. The city later removed those signs in favor of painting warning signs on the road further down for motorists to see
‘In fact, the markings left at this crossing had the dangerous effect of being visible to pedestrians giving the impression the crossing was still intended to be a marked crosswalk, but not being visible to approaching motorists on Freeport Boulevard,’ the lawsuit said.
In addition, the city also removed pedestrian warning signs in favor of painting warnings further down the road for drivers, despite the intersection being near two schools: Centennial Christian Preschool and Sutterville Elementary School, where Kuang attended.
‘In the last six to eight years, we’ve seen many accidents,’ Bernard Perez told the Sacramento Bee. ‘This should not happen.’
‘On my property, they cut the sign off that says “caution” “walk with caution.”‘
Two years after the accident, the Sacramento City Council discussed the settlement behind closed doors on January 28, 2020. The settlement results were not released to the public following the meeting.
The payout was one of the city’s largest such payouts
City Attorney Susana Alcala Wood reported the settlement will go to a special trust fund for Kuang, who is unable to pursue permanent work in the future due to his injuries, the lawsuit stated.
The accident happened near two schools, one of which Kuang attended, the Sutterville Elementary School
‘As the City Attorney for Sacramento, it often is my responsibility to help reconcile supremely tragic events that befall 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 settlement agreement with the family was designed to include a special needs trust that ensures that Jian Hao Kuang is cared for throughout his life.’
She also said the city is working to make safer and working to ‘improve their safety.’
In addition to the $11million from the city, the family – which included Kuang and Zhu’s two children – received $100,000 from the sedan driver, Sidhu.
City spokesman Tim Swanson said the settlement may not have been discussed in public because it was pending litigation, may have violated attorney/client privilege and because the city council took no reportable action on the lawsuit.
In addition to the $11million, the driver Sidhu paid the family $100,000 in a settlement
First Amendment Coalition executive director David Snyder said that even if there is no legal disclosure requirement, cities should announce settlements at public meetings when they are final — particularly large payments.
‘As a matter of policy, I think any city should publicly disclose a payment of this size, especially whereas here it’s (one of) the largest ever,’ Snyder told the Sacramento Bee.
‘That’s a lot of money that might otherwise have been used to repair city streets, address the homelessness crisis, improve city services. The public is entitled to at least know about the amount and the underlying circumstances that led to such a payout.’
This is the second-largest settlement payment the City of Sacramento has paid out, with the largest being $15million in 2016 after a girl died at Camp Sacramento.