Man who battled homelessness killed by speeding vehicle on way to first paid performance as actor

Stephen Nartey November 08, 2023
Richard D, May/Photo credit: Brandon Callender/African-American Shakespeare Company/San Francisco Chronicle

A resilient man who battled homelessness to chase his acting dreams has been killed on his way to a rehearsal for his debut performance at the Taube Atrium Theater on Van Ness Avenue.

Richard D. May, 65, who was a native of San Francisco, was struck by a white BMW just 12 blocks north of the theater on a fateful Saturday morning, October 28. The San Francisco Police Department reported that a German sedan ran a red light, causing a collision with an Audi, and ended up killing May on the sidewalk in the Lower Nob Hill neighborhood.

The driver of the sedan has been arrested. May was en route to perform as Uncle Ben in the African-American Shakespeare Company’s production of “Death of a Salesman” that Saturday night.

Sherri Young, the Executive Director and founder of the theater company, lamented that May’s accident occurred when he happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. She noted that if he had just delayed his departure to buy something at a café, he would have been able to participate in his very first show with the theater company.

Witness Anthony Bernardo, who was at work, heard a speeding car and rushed outside to see the situation. He recounted that the BMW was traveling at high speed when it ran the red light and collided with a black Audi at the intersection of Post and Hyde Street.

Following the collision with the Audi, the BMW spun around and struck May, who was walking down the street. Bernardo said he and others in the vicinity heard three significant crashes. San Francisco Police arrived at the scene, arrested the BMW driver, and pronounced May deceased. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the medical examiner’s office had not provided further details and was in the process of notifying May’s next of kin.

The Executive Director and founder of the theater company said that May had joined the company in March, and his involvement had brought great excitement to everyone. She lauded his exceptional talent and revealed that he had been cast in three out of the four shows for the season. The show May was rehearsing for would have marked his first paid acting role, as reported by the Daily Mail.

Darien Caine, a colleague of Richard D. May, described him as someone who exuded brightness despite the hardships he had faced. The theater company disclosed that, aside from experiencing homelessness, May had also confronted issues related to substance abuse and had been candid about his struggles.

Before joining the African-American Shakespeare Company, May had participated in an actors’ workshop in New York City and Los Angeles, funded by Mayor London Breed’s Dream Keeper Initiative, which allocates $60 million annually to organizations supporting Black communities.

The debut show of “Death of a Salesman” which May would have featured in was canceled on the night of the accident due to the emotional distress of the cast and crew.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: November 8, 2023


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