A San Francisco man who overcame homelessness to pursue his dream of becoming an actor was run over by a BMW on his way to rehearsal for his debut performance.
Richard D, May, 65, was walking to Taube Atrium Theater on Van Ness Avenue around 11am on Saturday when he got hit by a white BMW just 12 blocks north of the theater.
The San Francisco Police Department said that the German sedan ran a red light, hit an Audi and then struck May on the sidewalk in the Lower Nob Hill neighborhood. Its driver has since been arrested.
May was on his way to perform in the African-American Shakespeare Company’s production of Death of a Salesman as Uncle Ben on Saturday night.
Richard D. May (pictured) died on Saturday around 11am after he was hit by a BMW that ran a red light and clipped another car. It then struck him while he walked on the sidewalk
May was set to play Uncle Ben in the African-American Shakespeare Company’s production of Death of a Salesman on Saturday night
Sherri Young, the Executive Director and founder of the theater company told KTVU: ‘The wrong place at the wrong time. Like if he just waited to buy something at a café, and missed that accident, he would have been performing in his very first show with us!’
Anthony Bernardo was at work when he heard a car zooming by and ran outside to see what was going on. He said the BMW was speeding when it ran the light and clipped a black Audi at the intersection of Post and Hyde Street.
The BMW then spun around and hit May while he was walking down the street.
Bernardo said that he and others ‘heard three loud a** crashes!’ before San Francisco Police arrived on the scene and arrested the BMW driver and pronounced May dead.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the medical examiner’s office did not release additional details and that they were still trying to notify May’s next of kin.
Young said that May had started acting for the company back in March and that ‘everybody was just so elated’ when he started.
She added that he was extremely talented and was cast in three of the four shows this season and that this show would have been the first time he was paid as an actor.
One of May’s colleague’s Darien Caine said that the late actor had a ‘brightness about him’ even with all the hardships he’d been through.
The company revealed that besides homelessness, May had also struggled with substance abuse and was never shy about acknowledging his battles.
The white BMW (pictured) hit and killed May who was on the sidewalk walking to rehearsal. The driver was arrested and is set to face criminal charges
May (left) had been cast in three of the four shows at the company. He joined the African-American Shakespeare Company in March
The BMW hit a black Audi (pictured) before it went on and fatally struck May. It is unclear what condition the Audi driver was in after the accident
Liam Passmore, a spokesperson for the company said that the play’s cast and crew planned to gather together this weekend to share stories in honor of May.
Of the two other shows that May was cast in, Passmore said that he was looking forward to playing the evil stepmother in Cinderella.
Prior to landing rolls with the African-American Shakespeare Company, May had just recently traveled to New York City and Los Angeles for an actors’ workshop.
The workshop was funded by Mayor London Breed’s Dream Keeper Initiative which has gifted $60million annually to organizations that support Black communities.
Young said that May was a ‘wonderful human being’ and that she loved his authenticity as an actor.
‘When he was performing, it seemed like you were looking into someone’s private moments you weren’t supposed to see. It was very impressive,’ Young said.
The debut show for Death of a Salesman was canceled that night as the cast and crew were too distraught to go on.
Prior to landing rolls with the African-American Shakespeare Company, May (right) had just recently traveled to New York City and Los Angeles for an actors’ workshop
The opening night show was canceled after the cast and crew heard the news of May’s death. The future shows will go on as another actor is set to take his spot
The production is still set to continue as another actor will take May’s place and an open seat will be reserved for him in every performance this year.
The BMW driver was taken into custody and is expected to face criminal charges. It is unclear what condition the Audi driver was in after the accident.
In a press release from Walk San Francisco– an advocacy group for safe streets- they reported that May’s accident marked the sixteenth pedestrian death in San Francisco in 2023.
The organization added that Post and Hyde Street are both one-way, multi-lane roads that are considered ‘high-injury’.
Jodie Medeiros, the executive director of Walk San Francisco said: ‘Dangerous driving threatens all of us. We should all be safe on the sidewalk. We should be safe in the crosswalk. And too often, we are not safe.’