San Francisco employee Tom Burnoski was arrested Friday, Sept. 6 for the hit-and-run death of a 35-year old woman in Holly Park, according to an ABC7 news report. Christine Svanemyr was sunbathing with her infant daughter and dog nearby when she was run over by the park vehicle Thursday.
The 57-year old Burnoski has been with the parks department since 2006. He left the scene, but was found just blocks away later that afternoon. He has been charged with vehicular manslaughter and felony hit-and-run.
Svanemyr's daughter and dog were unhurt, and have been reunited with her grieving husband. She was a dancer, psychologist and zen monk.
So begins the push to demonize the suspect and even the city. Many comments on the report tried to blame the city's liberalism.
A source tells Examiner that Burnoski was actually a conservative, not that one's politics have anything to do with the accident. He was also a member of Shiloh Church in Oakland, so perhaps some on the other side of the fence politically will make it about religion.
In reality, this story has so much depth and cannot be explained away by labels.
Burnoski himself lost a 20-year old daughter last April to a car accident. Adding to the irony is that she was also a dancer.
His family has not yet recovered from that tragedy. They will almost certainly now lose their patriarch for years to come and need the forgiveness of Jesus Christ to deal with the burden of his role in another family's sorrow.
Nowhere is it promised that anyone will avoid the evils of this world. The difference between Christianity and other religions is forgiveness.
We are called upon to forgive others as God forgives us. While we were yet in sin He sent His only begotten Son to suffer and die for our redemption (Romans 5:8).
The Burnowski family forgave the young man who fell asleep at the wheel, leading to the death of their daughter. Because we are all sinners, no one meets the standard of God and only through forgiveness can we attain salvation.
As it says in Matthew 7, we are judged by the standard we use to judge others. That is one reason we are called on to not judge. Another is that we do not know everything about the situation that may have played into this fatal mistake.
The evidence is overwhelming that Burnoski is guilty of a bad thing. He may have driven over the grass against park department policy, and there is speculation he may have even been talking on his cell phone against state law. He certainly did not immediately face responsibility as one should, much less try to get Svanemyr help.
Then again, perhaps he was merely inattentive, thinking the thing he ran over was something left in the grass.
Since the fall of man into sin, people make bad mistakes and bad choices of how to deal with the consequences. Doing a bad thing does not make one a bad person, just as Christianity, Buddhism or a particular political affiliation does not make one a good person.
How we react to terrible news like this is a display of the love in our hearts. Regardless of the affiliations of the victim and suspect, we can all pray for both families to heal.