California County Supervisor, a 'North Star' for Many, Killed by Car While Walking Her Dog

Wilma Chan, the first person of Asian descent ever to be elected to the board of supervisors in California's Alameda County, died at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday. A car struck her dead while she was walking her dog, Maggie.

Chan suffered a serious head injury, according to a statement released by her office. Though she was rushed to Highland Hospital, the medical staff there was unable to revive her.

Chan was 72. She is survived by two children and two grandchildren. Her family thanked the first responders and medical staff for their "wonderful" care, they said in a statement delivered by Chan's chief of staff, Dave Brown.

Alameda police are investigating the crash. The driver of the car, an unnamed adult female, has cooperated with investigators, KTLA reported. However, the cause of the crash has not yet been released.

supervisor wilma chan hit by car dead
Wilma Chan, the District 3 Supervisor of California's Alameda County, died after being hit by a car while walking her dog. Above, a man holds the hand of person lying on the road after a car accident. Motortion/Getty

Chan was elected to the Alameda County Board of Supervisors in 1994. She served on the board until 2000, when she was elected to the California State Assembly.

In the state Assembly, Chan served three terms and became the first Asian-American to serve as majority leader. In 2006, she reached her term limit in the Assembly. In 2008, she ran an unsuccessful campaign for state senator.

In 2010, she successfully ran again for her seat on the board of supervisors, where she served until her death.

During her 30-year political career, Chan proved an outspoken advocate for children, families, the elderly, affordable housing and health care for the uninsured, according to a memo the board of supervisors circulated after her death, the SF Gate reported.

"Our deepest condolences go out to [Chan's] family, friends and colleagues," Alameda County District Attorney Nancy E. O'Malley said in a statement, according to KTVU.

"Supervisor Chan was a North Star for so many important issues that served the vulnerable in our community," O'Malley's statement continued. "Her influence and commitment to her community and Alameda County will be greatly missed."

Chan was hit near an intersection known for its high number of vehicle-related injuries, according to Denyse Trepanier, board president of the advocacy group Bike Walk Alameda. The roadway had been cited by municipal officials in the city's Vision Zero Action Plan. The plan seeks to end serious vehicle collisions in the city by 2035.

"But at this time, it's still just a plan," Trepanier told KTLA. "It's long past time to take action and make the safety improvements that we know, with certainty, will reduce the likelihood and severity of crashes like this."