UPDATED: Weeks After Tragedy, Rec and Park Vehicles Still Drive in Holly Park; No Charges Filed Against Deadly Driver




As you know, there’s a vigil tonight at 5 pm for Christy Svanemyr, the victim in the Holly Park hit-and-run tragedy.

Please attend if you can — not just because it’s a fitting way to remember Christy, but also because the violations of Rec and Park policy that triggered the accident apparently continue in Holly Park to this day.

Neighbor Rebecca sent this to Bernalwood earlier this week:

Perhaps I’m simply being hypersensitive.

I was there when tragedy struck earlier this month. Ever since, as solo dog walker, I’ve noticed the amount of vehicles that inhabit local SF parks. When I can I try to take photos and report inappropriate actions.

On Sept 29 at around 2:30p I witnessed a SF Rec and Park vehicle drive, yes slowly, towards the restroom in Holly Park to carry a single box from the truck to the restrooms.


Is it really necessary to drive through a park so small? Regardless of weather, he remained on park roads.  There was no spotter, and all equipment he carried to or from the truck did not appear to be extraordinarily heavy. Also, the distance he parked from the restrooms seemed almost equidistant to parking on the actual street and carrying needed supplies.

I’m just a concerned Bernalite, who witnessed a tragedy and questioning all I see in regards to it.

That’s exactly what we all should do.

Tonight’s vigil will be an excellent opportunity to share those questions and concerns — to ensure that nothing like this ever happens ever again.

UPDATE: Also today, our friends at SFist report that no charges have yet been filed against Thomas Burnoski, the Rec & Park employee who was driving the vehicle that killed Christy Svanemyr:

A month after 35-year-old Christine Svanemyr was struck and killed by a Rec and Parks Department truck as she lay on the grass in Holly Park with her infant daughter and family dog, and the District Attorney’s office has yet to file charges in the case. The driver of truck, 57-year-old gardener Thomas Burnoski, has said he was unaware that he struck the woman after he turned off an asphalt path in the park.

Burnoski was released on $25,000 bail after the incident on September 5th and prosecutors original claimed they would decide whether to press charges by the end of September. According to the District Attorney’s office, they actually have up to three years to file charges

PHOTOS: Neighbor Rebecca

19 thoughts on “UPDATED: Weeks After Tragedy, Rec and Park Vehicles Still Drive in Holly Park; No Charges Filed Against Deadly Driver

  1. I wrote this to them on their website:

    Hi – I just heard you’re STILL solo driving in Holly Park. This is UNACCEPTABLE!

    I’m sure the poor Parks and Rec guy who ran over and killed a mom is devastated. I’m sure he will suffer a life’s worth of sadness and guilt and shame and anger over this – and that’s terrible too, as is that woman’s death, and the fact that a kid now has no mom, and the kid’s dad is now fathering solo. And that none of us feels safe, not even on park grass. It’s all terrible.

    AND WHAT ARE YOU DOING – I hear you’re allowing your Parks people to drive alone (without a spotter) still ?!? Please tell us this isn’t true.

    You need golfcarts or something. Have you guys issued a public statement that includes a safety plan? I want to see it please.

    Thank you, Sheilah (bernal resident)


  2. What the hell? This makes me want to storm City Hall and ask Ed Lee how many more people have to die before he insists that Rec & Park start enforcing their own policies.

  3. Yes, Holly park was being maintained this week – Tuesday I think – probably prepping the park for this evening. There were lots of Park & Rec staff and several large grass mowers – like small tanks – were brought in on a carrier vehicle – the mowers were cutting across the grass between 7 and 8 am and there was NO ONE spotting. Despite several users in the park with dogs off lease.

    • Yes, I think it is an outrage they are still operating pickup trucks in Holly Park without spotters; but, you are off base on the mowers and dogs:

      First, it is completely unreasonable to expect a lawn mower to operate with a separate spotter. Second, dogs are required to be on leash while in Holly Park.

      • I would agree Eric, except it isn’t the kind of mower that is used in homes, operated by a person pushing it. It is a vehicle with with an operator in a seat, larger than a golf cart, it is a motorized vehicle, with a driver at the wheel. It is not a small vehicle. In my opinion, given that they operate on the grassy areas where people sit and dogs run, they should have a spotter – and because of the recent tragedy – even more so. What were they thinking? There were two driving across the grass one after the other, near Bocana. One other near the elementary school that drove off the park into the street to the large truck that brought them in.
        I agree that dogs are require to be on leash while in Holly Park.

  4. They drive in all the parks. I don’t get it. Just designate a street spot near the entrance for parks dept vehicle loading and unloading.

  5. Ed Lee is far too busy schmoozing with start-ups. Trust me – I know first hand. This is something that the community needs to just bust a move on. Continue to ask questions, take photos and make noise! Talk to the rangers and speak your mind. Be hyper-aware. It’s really quite absurd that they don’t have golf carts in such a small park, especially! Great idea. Let’s make THAT happen by squeaking the wheel a bunch!

    • You keep saying that, and it keeps being bullshit. I’ve found Sup. Campos’s office to be nothing but responsive every time I’ve contacted them with concerns and comments.

  6. I wanted to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their comments. We are taking this matter very seriously and are deeply disturbed by what is being reported here. As promised, we are holding a hearing on Rec & Park practices next Thursday, October 17, at City Hall. I also want to thank all the neighbors who came out to today’s beautiful and moving vigil for Christy Svanimyr.

  7. My apologies, I gave the wrong date. The hearing is next Thursday, October 10, at 10:00 am, before the Neighnorhood Services & Safety Committee, in the Board of Supervisors Chamber. Thank you.

  8. Where is the toxicology report for the Rec & Park guy?
    As a 28yr resident down the street from Holly Park
    I can tell you that we’ve had many challenges
    with the Rec & Park employees…
    Who interviews and hires these people?

  9. Pingback: Emotional Vigil in Holly Park Remembers Christy Svanemyr | Bernalwood

  10. As long as they’re driving on the pavement, I don’t see any problem with it. *shrug*

  11. This truly is STILL outrageous that any park official or employee is allowed to drive in the park. Totally disgusting. Typical of our inept city government. Mayor Lee and park leaders should be held accountable for this sad and tragic death.

  12. Pingback: Campos Conducts Safety Hearing After Holly Park Tragedy | Bernalwood

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