A California mother lying in the grass at a San Francisco park with her baby was hit by a truck and killed, but the child survived.
Christine Svanemyr, 35, was soaking up the sun in Bernal Heights’ Holly Park with her 11-month-old daughter on Sept. 5 when she was stuck by Recreation and Parks Department employee, 57-year-old Thomas Burnoski, KTVU-TV reported.
Burnoski continued driving, having “no idea” that he hit the woman until he was tracked down by police, according to his lawyer Robert Waggener. He had been driving the city truck on a paved path in the park when he “strayed off that path and cut across the grass,” Waggener described, according to KTVU.
The San Francisco Chronicle pointed out that the department’s policy requires a second person to stand outside the vehicle for safety if it needs to pull of designated paths.
“My actions caused the death of this person and there is nothing I can do to bring her back,” Burnoski said in the statement. “I am absolutely devastated by this tragic accident. Mere words can never convey what I and my family feel, knowing that a child will grow up without her mother.”
In addition to her child, Svanemyr is survived by her husband, Vegar. This also is not the first tragedy to strike the family. The mother’s 20-year-old daughter, Tiffany, was killed in a car crash in April, according to the Chronicle.
Vegar Svanemyr told the Chronicle what it was like to arrive at the hospital earlier this month and learn what had happened.
“All I knew was that my wife and child had been in an accident and that one or both of them had been badly hurt,” he said. “I was bracing myself for something. I didn’t know what.”
His wife was dead, but someone put his baby daughter into his arms, unharmed.
“It was a really powerful moment,” he told the newspaper. “When they brought my daughter out, that was when it really hit me.”
Vegar Svanemyr said he has received an outpouring of support since his wife’s death.
“I have felt completely held and loved by everyone, from family and friends to total strangers that have cooked us meals and donated breast milk,” he told the Chronicle. “I’m experiencing a strange blend of total loss and total gratitude.”
KTVU noted that an Indigogo funding page established for the family raised more than $68,000 since being started just a couple days after Christine’s death.
Burnoski is on leave without pay while the investigation continues.
Watch KGO-TV’s report about the incident: