They were young tech workers, new to the Bay Area. Their life together was cut short in a crosswalk | #speeddating | #tinder | #pof | #blackpeoplemeet | romancescams | #scams

With time to spare before the evening’s show, Lovisa Svallingson and Daniel Ramos walked through Civic Center on a recent night on their way to the comedy club where Ramos was scheduled to perform. Transplants from Denver, the couple was starting a life together in the Bay Area.

But moments after stepping into a crosswalk at Hayes and Polk streets, they became victims in one of San Francisco’s most intractable problems. The driver of a pickup truck — who police say ran a red light at high speed — smashed into a car and then plowed into Svallingson and Ramos.

Svallingson, a software engineer born in Sweden, became the eighth pedestrian killed in San Francisco this year. Ramos, a software engineer who grew up in Colorado, survived, but with internal bleeding, liver damage, bruised lungs, eight fractured ribs, a broken collarbone, a broken wrist and a head injury. He faces a long recovery.

The driver, 57-year-old Virgil Woods of San Francisco, has pleaded not guilty to charges of vehicular manslaughter, reckless driving, leaving the scene of an accident, destruction of evidence and falsifying a police report. Prosecutors said Woods discarded a jacket as he ran from the scene and later filed a bogus police report claiming his truck had been stolen.

“There is no reason someone walking down streets in our city should have to fear for their life,” said Supervisor Matt Haney, who represents the district where Svallingson was killed and went to the scene of the crash moments after it happened.

San Francisco has had more than 200 traffic fatalities and 20,000 serious traffic injuries since the city officials set out to eliminate them six years ago through the Vision Zero initiative.

The family of Danny Ramos who was injured in a hit and run crash that also killed his girlfriend, Lovisa Svallingson listen to Supervisor Matt Haney speak during a vigil on the corner of Polk and Hayes where the accident occurred in San Francisco on Wednesday, May 27, 2021.Nick Otto/Special to The Chronicle

The corner of Hayes and Polk is in a zone known by city officials for a disproportionate number of incidents. The two one-way streets intersect where cars barrel toward Highway 101, said Jodie Medeiros, executive director of Walk San Francisco, a pedestrian advocacy group. In the last four years, there have been six crashes in the intersection that injured two other pedestrians, according to the group’s tallies.

“We need to use all the tools in our toolbox to slow traffic going through there,” Medeiros said.

More broadly, Medeiros and other pedestrian advocates would like San Francisco to hasten its adoption of “tools” used by two Nordic capitals — Oslo and Helsinki — which each recorded zero pedestrian fatalities in 2019 after officials there restricted cars in city centers, redesigned streets and reduced speed limits.

But despite the advocacy and city efforts to increase pedestrian safety, San Francisco appears to have a long way to go to reach its goal of no fatalities.

In Cañon City, Colo., on the night of the crash on May 18, Ramos’ mother Rita Ivari was getting ready for bed when her son’s name flashed across her cellphone. She called back and a social worker answered. Ramos had been in a car accident, the social worker told her.

“Was Lovisa with him?” Ivari asked, but the social worker couldn’t say. With rising panic, she sent messages to Svallingson’s family members in Sweden and Portugal late into the night. Within hours, the phone rang. It was Jan Svallingson, Lovisa’s father. Svallingson had died instantly in the crash, he told her.

Ivari thought of the 29-year-old’s “beautiful life, lost” and her son, still in the operating room. She worried the heartbreak would sap “his will to live.”

As of Tuesday, two weeks after the crash, Ramos, 28, remained in a hospital intensive care unit. His family said he is gaining strength, but remains unable to breathe on his own. He does not yet know that Svallingson is gone.

The couple met in Denver in the summer of 2019. One of Ramos’ friends from the city’s comedy circuit asked him to make a dating profile, which the friend planned to make fun of as part of her stand-up routine. After he joined Hinge for his friend’s comedic purposes, his first and only match was Svallingson.

Their connection was obvious, Ramos’ sister, Samantha Ivari, said. Soon, they were meeting each other’s friends. Svallingson attended Ramos’ stand-up performances, where he would introduce himself to the crowd as half Mexican and half Iranian, or, as he joked, “a Trump 2-for-1 special.”

Svallingson understood what it was like to inhabit multiple cultures. Born in Onsala, a Swedish village near the sea, she spoke five languages and had crisscrossed the globe, living in Paris and Shanghai before landing in Denver at the Turing School of Software and Design. By the time she met Ramos, she was an accomplished software engineer who dreamed of using her skills to “save the planet,” said Jeff Casimir, the school’s executive director.

Svallingson always “looked out for the person next to her, the person behind her,” Casimir said.

Long after she graduated, Svallingson volunteered her time to coach students, especially women, through the arduous process of learning to code, Casimir said. Inspired by Svallingson’s passion for the profession, Ramos enrolled at the Turing School to become a software engineer. He spent the early months of the pandemic deep in online coursework.

By the time Ramos graduated from the coding school late last year, he and Svallingson had each found jobs at Bay Area tech companies. They packed their possessions in a cargo van on the final day of February and drove west to Oakland, where they rented a small apartment north of Lake Merritt. Ever frugal, Svallingson insisted on finding second-hand furnishings.

Ramos booked a string of performances at Bay Area comedy clubs. He planned to continue performing in his free time. “Old jokes in Denver are new jokes in San Francisco,” he told his family.

Maria Cortez holds a sign on the corner of Polk and Hayes while attending a vigil honoring Lovisa Svallingson who was killed in a hit and run accident that also critically injured her boyfriend Danny Ramos in San Francisco on Wednesday, May 27, 2021.
Maria Cortez holds a sign on the corner of Polk and Hayes while attending a vigil honoring Lovisa Svallingson who was killed in a hit and run accident that also critically injured her boyfriend Danny Ramos in San Francisco on Wednesday, May 27, 2021.Nick Otto/Special to The Chronicle

On Thursday evening, dozens of friends and strangers gathered on the sidewalk at Hayes and Polk to honor Svallingson’s life and pray for Ramos’ recovery.

Svallingson’s parents, Jan and Helene, watched the vigil on video from Portugal; her three siblings watched from Sweden. The mourners wrote notes on large yellow hearts, which they strung between two lamp posts.

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