Days before Thanksgiving, San Francisco employment lawyer Spencer Freeman Smith pled guilty to felony hit-and-run and misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter for hitting and killing Bo Hu, who was riding his bike on Dougherty Road in Dublin.
According to an article in SF Gate, Smith hit Hu from behind with his black Mercedes-Benz CLS550 and fled the scene. Police officers were able to match parts left at the scene to Smith’s car, which had “extensive windshield and front-end damage” according to Dublin police lieutenant Herb Walters.
The guilty plea comes more than two-and-a-half years after the hit-and-run accident. Smith refused a plea deal in August 2013. After several delays, the San Ramon resident accepted the plea.
Depending on the outcome of the February 20 sentencing hearing at Alameda County Superior Court in Hayward, Smith could face jail time and/or probation, fines and restitution to the victim’s family.
Hu’s family also has grounds to file a wrongful death action for damages for the loss of the care, comfort and society. Since there was a felony conviction, oftentimes auto insurance companies exclude from coverage payment for injuries or death from criminal conduct. Given the heinous nature of Smith’s actions, he could also be liable for punitive damages over and above the normal damages allowed for wrongful death.
It is my hope that Smith receives punishment commensurable with the crime and that the victim’s family receives compensation for this wrongful death. Very often in hit-and-run cases involving cyclists and pedestrians, the victims and/or families feel that the sentence is ultimately inadequate given the gravity of the defendant’s conduct. My condolences to the Hu family for their loss.