SAN FRANCISCO — A 27-year-old woman from Japan was one of two people killed by a hit-and-run driver in San Francisco on New Year’s Eve.
Friends of Hanako Abe have started a GoFundMe campaign for her “journey home.” Meanwhile, the victim’s parents are demanding justice in the case of the driver, who was arrested. It turned out that he was free despite repeated parole violations.
The GoFundMe campaign, launched by five of Abe’s friends, had reached over $126,000 from about 2,100 donors as of Thursday afternoon, surpassing the goal of $60,000. The description reads as follows:
“On Dec. 31, 2020, our dear friend Hanako Abe was walking across a crosswalk in the SOMA [South of Market] district of San Francisco when she was fatally struck by a driver in a hit-and-run accident. The driver was on parole for robbery and was driving a stolen car. Hana was taken to the ER with life-threatening injuries and died shortly after. She was only 27 years old.
“Hana embodied resilience, bravery, and hope. Hana grew up in Fukushima, Japan, where her family survived the Japanese earthquake and nuclear disaster. Despite this tragedy, Hana continued doing her best in pursuit of her dreams. She put all of her efforts into studying English so that one day she could come to America.
“The fruits of her labors were being accepted to the University of Central Arkansas, where she developed a passion for computer science. Upon graduating, Hana moved to San Francisco in 2018 where she started pursuing her dream as a data engineer. She always had the warmest smile and made friends wherever she went.
“On top of being far away from her family, Hana shouldered an enormous amount of responsibility with her father having an aortic dissection and mother’s battle with lung cancer. Throughout the past year, in the midst of COVID-19, Hana never stopped smiling and was the most resilient and optimistic person we knew.
“Hana had such a bright future ahead of her. She was a loving daughter and selfless friend whose life was cut short too tragically. We are close family friends setting up this fundraiser to help Hana’s family with the cost of travel and funeral expenses so her mother and little brother can fly to the U.S. and ‘bring her back,’ transport her body back to Japan. We want her to be able to rest peacefully surrounded by her family and closest friends in Hana’s home country of Japan.
“Hana had also been providing significant financial support to her family, and any leftover funds will go directly to them now that she is no longer able to do so. (We are setting up this fundraiser on behalf of Hana’s mother with her permission as GoFundMe is not currently supported in Japan.) Any contributions are deeply appreciated. Please feel free to share and help us spread the word.”
To visit the page, go to: https://www.gofundme.com/f/hanako-abe
Abe and the other victim, Elizabeth Platt, 60, did not know each other.
According to The San Francisco Chronicle, Abe’s parents, Hiroko and Tsuneo Abe, said in a statement that they “never expected this kind of sadness in our lives.”
The death of their daughter, they said, should be a “critical lesson to create a system to prevent such disastrous incidents from happening.”
The Abes said that their daughter “worked hard to be able to study and get a job in America” and that “living abroad was her dream.”
“The accident was disastrous,” they wrote. “Did the justice system correctly prove that the (suspect) was ready before letting him back into society?”
According to KPIX, the driver, who tried to flee the scene but was quickly arrested, was identified as Troy McAllister, 45. Police said they found a handgun and drugs in the car.
Assistant District Attorney Rachel Marshall said that McAllister was arrested in November and December for crimes committed in San Francisco and was referred to his state parole officer both times. The officer twice decided not to send McAllister back to jail.
“There can be no question, every justice agency involved in this — including our office — must take responsibility for preventing tragedies like this from happening,” Marshall said in a statement. “We are carefully reviewing what happened and thinking critically about what could have been done differently in this case.”
Critics of District Attorney Chesa Boudin accused him of failing to hold McAllister accountable.
San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott said via Twitter, “At the San Francisco Police Department, our hearts go out to the families of the victims in last evening’s fatal hit-and-run incident at Mission and Second streets. This senseless tragedy shouldn’t have happened. We must all be held equally accountable for the decisions we make because they can have serious implications for the safety of those we serve. San Franciscans deserve nothing less and that’s what they’re demanding from all of us in the criminal justice system.”
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said in a statement, “Our top priority is public safety and we will work with our local partners on this unfortunate incident. None of the parolee’s arrests following his 2020 release have yet to result in filings of criminal charges by the district attorney. Our parole office followed all procedures after these incidents, including conducting investigations and making appropriate referrals for the individual.”