TriMet Bus Crash Kills Two Pedestrians

Comments

1
is that 1988 or 1998? because your twitter says 1998.
2
should be 1988, sorry for the typo.
3
I'm confused by this whole scenario. How does a bus hit five people, killing two, while making a turn on a downtown street?
4
a quick facebook/myspace search also seems to confirm that Jenee left behind a young boy. Really sad.
5
Portlanders do not seem to know how to turn. They either sit at a curb waiting forever or they turn automatically without looking.

The commenters on the Oregonian seem to be taking a blame the victims approach, blithely ignoring the fact that the pedestrians had a walk signal and that vehicles are supposed to stop before turning and yield to pedestrians in any event. I may be semi-forgiving in the event of mechanical failure, but if this is driver error she should be charged with homicide... if such a charge even exists in Oregon when involving a vehicle.
6
seanpdx,
The police wouldn't speculate on what the driver could be charged with if she's at fault because there's a lot of factors that play into traffic crimes. But if we were to take a guess, I think the most likely charges would either be reckless driving (a serious crime which requires being aware that you're causing a risk and disregarding it) or careless driving (a lesser offense).

Oregon has a relatively weak vehicular homicide law and legislators dropped the chance to toughen it last year when bike/ped advocates pushed the issue in Salem. To be liable for homicide, the bus driver would have had to intentionally caused their deaths, like if she'd been angry at the pedestrians and run them down. More reporting on vehicular homicide here: http://www.portlandmercury.com/portland/ge…
7
A momentary lapse in concentration can have disastrous results.
Taking your eyes off mirrors during turns can be fatal, that's my guess.
This is a job that can land you in jail if you screw up.
My sympathies to the victims, a true tragedy for everyone involved.
The worst incident since I've been driving buses here in Portland.
Hey Sarah, is it possible to find the previous incidents details anywhere?
I tried just recently to find all the Trimet death's, bus and max but was unsuccessful.
8
Thanks for the link, Sarah, and good reporting. I wish our own first breaking news reporting had been happier.

As for the previous deaths, Al: I don't know if others are on the case, but we are.
9
If this goes like every other murder by automobile in our state you will see the bus driver get a 242 dollar fine and be back behind the wheel tomorrow. This state needs to figure out that just because you aren't drunk doesn't mean you aren't at fault when you plow through 5 people who are legally in a crosswalk!
10
I've been disgusted by the comments on the other local news sites. I don't understand how one can say that these pedestrians were being "irresponsible" for walking when they had a walk signal. I know it's frustrating to drive downtown when some pedestrians aren't paying attention and do dart into traffic, but this in no way sounds like that. I feel for the driver, but really...she shouldn't be behind the wheel.
11
This is down there now.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/theonetruebix…

I didn't even realize that's where I was when I took this until I got home.
12
Maybe the police should look into whether the driver of the bus was on her cell phone and/or texting. How could you miss 5 people crossing the street? Whatever happened to pedestrians having the right of way. She could have stopped until they crossed the street unless she was doing something other than driving. She was coming off a break, was she late to start her new trip on the Line 9 Powell/Broadway Route? Now look at what you did, Sandi! You can't bring back the people who died. I would like you to know that Jenee was to be married in a few months, leaves a finance and her two year old son. Maybe you would like to tell him where his mother is.
13
This is not the first time that this type of accident has happened with a TriMet bus. An almost identical accident happened June 17th 1991 at the intersection of SW 5th and Clay street. JULIE ANNE NEHER was crossing Clay Street when a TriMet bus turned right from 5th to Clay. The side of the bus knocked her down, and the rear wheels went over her, and dragged her about fifteen feet as well. In the confusion, the driver backed up, and ran over her again. Julie was conscience throughout all of this, and stayed alive for another two hours before finally dying in emergency surgery at OHSU. I know all of this because Julie and I were dating at the time, and I arrived at the scene less than five minutes after it happened. It was the worst day of my life. It's worth pointing out that though TriMet settled quietly out of court with the family, and the driver was never cited for this horrific accident, and went back to driving for TriMet shortly afterwords.
14
Al, just posted those last 22 years of incidents on the Twitters: http://twitter.com/MikeOnFoot. TriMet spokeswoman Mary Fetsch has been working late to handle the incident.
15
Thanks PortlandAfoot!

And I got a couple of gruesome eyewitness pics here, be warned:
[PHOTO LINKS DELETED OUT OF RESPECT FOR THE FAMILIES—EDS]
16
I've known Jenee for 11 years... Not only is a little boy left without a mother, but Sandy Day's massive error has taken an amazingly beautiful woman from alot of people. The Hammel family has been a part of my family since I was 10 years old. One momentary lapse in concentration has destroyed that family and taken a big chunk out of mine. Jenee Hammel was the kind of person that just being around her made you happy. I never saw her in a bad mood, she was always laughing, dancing or singing. The thought of her dying in the fashion that she did makes my stomach turn. Sandy Day has no idea what her error has taken.
17
There is a Facebook page which exists for Jenee that shows her son in the picture. This whole incident I do not understand. I am glad that I drive other drivers up the wall out there when I am over cautious in turning where there are crosswalks, especially in the night. Years ago there was a girl dressed in complete black clothing who was talking on her cell phone and suddenly she was right there in the crosswalk in front of me. It is because I always go slow and proceed with caution that I have averted such an incident. It means other drivers are annoyed but it also means pedestrians are safe. In my situation, it only scared the girl that I was suddenly there. People are not always dressed in light colored clothing at night. You can't be taking corners fast no matter what kind of driver you are out there. And you need to know when you are too tired to drive too. That happened to me Saturday night, I took a cab instead to go on a short trip because my hayfever had drained me of all energy and concentration.
18
In this case it sounds as if the pedestrians had the right of way with a walk signal, and my sympathies to the family members of those lost. But I have seen many, many occasions when pedestrians step out onto the street talking or texting on their cell phone without paying attention. Did they stop teaching the 'Stop, Look, and Listen' that I remember learning as a child? All the time I see people step out onto the street without paying attention to what the traffic is doing. It is like the bicyclist in this city, they want special laws and not have to take responsibility for their own actions.
19
OK on the photo's, no disrespect intended.
The truth is pretty brutal.
20
This event is so utterly shocking that I am really unable to process it completely.
How does a 'professional" run into a group of 5 people in a crosswalk?
Fall asleep maybe? A small stroke that she didn't even know happened?
It's truly incomprehensible.
And how do the pedestrians not see the bus coming, there was five of them, didn't anybody see that bus coming at them?
The bus must have been out of control somehow, that is the only logical explanation. Either she was distracted, had some sort of medical problem, or there was a mechanical failure.
I just don't see any other possibilities in this case, unless we have a complete incompetent at the wheel.
21
@Al M - I've got no idea, either. I'd sure like to hear what those witnesses have to say. But there must also be some scenario where it was the pedestrians fault, right? Drunk people running out in front of a bus that couldn't stop in time? Downtown on a Saturday night, that seems just as possible as a massive mechanical failure.
22
wow. how tragic! lots of love for the families of the victims, and the victims themselves. This is really strange since i was riding the #9 last Saturday and was amazed how fast the driver was going down Powell, he had to pick up several handicapped people and was running late, im assuming. If someone were to walk in front of him, they would have been dead or seriously injured as well. It was spooky. I cant say for sure, but it seemed he was going way past the speed limit.
23
With all this media attention on Trimet, let's please not forget that the net effect of Trimet is to make traffic safer, and our air cleaner, that if all of those riders were in cars. Of course, driving a bus is a great responsibility, and it's extremely important that an incompetent driver be removed (and possibly charged), if that is what happened here. My sympathies for all involved in this tragedy.
24
Here are the fatal accident stats for Portland, just so readers can see the big picture here:
http://www.city-data.com/accidents/acc-Por…
25
Definitely not funny.
26
EVERYBODY ON WHEELS (BIKES TOO) NEED TO STOP COMPLETELY AT STOP SIGNS AND RED LIGHTS AND LOOK ALL AROUND YOU BEFORE PROCEEDING! THIS IS NOT OLD FASHIONED, IT IS THE LAW AS WELL AS COMMON FREAKIN SENSE. AND IF YOU CAN'T COME TO A COMPLETE STOP, USE TURN SIGNALS AND PAY THE F'IN ATTENTION YOU NEED TO PARK IT BEFORE YOU HURT, KILL OR EVEN INCONVENIENCE SOMEBODY!
27
@Portlandcabbie, I agree with you, both cars and bikes need to come to a complete stop. But there have been several times when I am coming up to an intersection when I do not have a stop sign, going about 20, and because of how cars are parked right up to the sidewalk (this is the only city I have seen where you could do that, others you cannot park within 30 feet) and you cannot see a pedestrian on the other side of the vehicle, and the just step out onto the street without looking to see if a vehicle is approaching. The pedestrians need to be just as responsible for theirself as do bikes. Just because they might have the right of way at an crosswalk, they shouldn't assume everyone can see them approaching it. 'STOP, LOOK AND LISTEN'! Why do people not seem to do this?
28
And....GET OFF YOUR DAMN CELL PHONE WILL DRIVING, RIDING YOUR BIKE OR WALKING TO CROSS THE STREET!
29
I’ve known drivers who have had or been involved in fatal accidents. It takes many years to get by the experience. Whether this young lady feels she was at fault or not, it will affect her for years to come. No one should feel the driver involved in accidents such as this walks away unscathed. I feel for the family and friends of everyone involved. If you were to compare Tri-met record with that of other cities you will find that Tri-met actually has fewer serious accidents. However, as some have noted, drivers are forced through schedules, brought on by public demand and budget demands etc, to drive faster then safety should require.
30
i live downtown SW and if i'm not actively assuming a turning car doesn't see me crossing in crosswalk on green, i'm scared of what could happen. i regularly have to stop in my tracks and make an exaggerated gesture towards a turning car to get them to actually pay attention to what they're doing. usually one out of ten drivers i encounter is either careless, oblivious, pre-occupied or simply assuming that no one could possibly be in front of them while they make a turn. it's just a sad truth that far too many people fail to pay full attention when they're behind a wheel.

i don't want to imply what may have happened, but regularly hearing stories like this (i moved here from chicago) it's amazing to think what may have been saved had people paid attention to what they're supposed to be doing. my heart goes out to all of the victims, their families, and the driver.
31
My prayers go out to all who have lost, Danielle worked with me, and always had a smiled on her face, and a happy spirit that she brought with her to work every day! We will miss her.
32
My wife and I were coast-to-coast commercial drivers operating a "big rig" with a 53 foot trailer delivering on-time loads for 2 years without incident. The training required to do this was, as follows: 1 month in-classroom and over-the-road just to get our commercial licenses. 1 month in-classroom and 2 weeks over-the-road pre-hire. 6 weeks over-the-road delivering loads with a trainer before we were able to pick up our first load ourselves. This training program was adopted as a result of the tragic death of a family of four at the hands of an undertrained company driver. While it cost these people thier lives, the company didn't take its time changing policy. Trimet...it's your turn. "Accidents" simply do not happen. It is ALWAYS driver negligence that is the cause collisions. No one HAS to drive. My wife and I quit our driving jobs and surrendered our commercial licenses after two years on the job. We loved the lifestyle and freedom afforded us in this profession, but the impeccable vigilance required to safely navigate a 70,000 pound vehicle was exhausting, and the stress created avoiding disaster was too much for us. Driving isn't for everybody but everybody's doing it.
33
Presumption our laws are "weak" or not - there were multiple deaths here - caused by vehicular driving indifference of the highest order. By a paid professional whose profession is supposed to be the highly trained SAFE operation of a bus - anytime, all the time - she is behind the wheel.

I do not presume there is ONLY a weak law that fits this. Negligent homicide is what I am suggesting. Look up the statue to indifference to human life. Multiple human lives. And the victims left behid - three of them at the scene and the traumatized eye witnesses and first responders. No way is this muddied down to a traffic infraction. No way.

She plowerd straight through and somehow RECKLESSLY and negligently went 60 feet beyond up onto a side walk - with the intent perhaps to harm others not even in that cross walk on on the street - but including in her criminal actions anyone on the SIDE WALK 60 feet away from the scene, too? Incredibly criminal in intent. All of it.
34
We have a condo in SW Portland & walk everywhere. I can't tell you how many times we've come close to getting hit by careless drivers, mostly making right hand turns, lots of them during the day and a few times by bus drivers who weren't paying attention or perhaps couldn't see us.

That being said, do I want to be in the right or do I want to get hit? No brainer for me. I never stand close to corner edge and ALWAYS make sure it's safe before stepping into a crosswalk and don't wear headphones for music or talk on my cell phone while walking. Because of this very sad accident, I'm now going to make it a habit to wear white or something reflective at night. This is too scary.

From what I've seen on Friday and Saturday nights downtown, it wouldn't surprise me if a fair amount of alcohol was involved on one side and carelessness on both sides. We'll just have to wait for what the majority of witnesses saw but it does seem to me that drinking or not, these very young victims definitely had the right of way if the signal light was clear for them to walk.

My hope is that many will learn from this, pay attention and sloooowww down. Do we really reach a destination THAT much quicker by speeding, cutting someone off or running a light? Let's all respect each other.
35
A lot of Trimet busses don't wait for pedestrians that have the walk signal. It's a problem. One number 4 bus I was on almost plowed into a young woman with a baby in a stroller who had the walk sign. The driver took no responsibility when the passengers went up in arms about it. PEDESTRIANS HAVE THE RIGHT OF WAY ON WALK SIGNS AND CROSSWALKS.... ALWAYS! PAY ATTENTION DRIVERS!
36
did we bother to report that one of those in the group got on the bus and beat up the driver? amazing how this part of the incident was omitted.
37
did we bother to report that one of those in the group got on the bus and beat up the driver? amazing how this part of the incident was omitted.
38
Hey bubbapaws do you really think you know what you are talking about? I'm the father of one of the girls that died, you are sooooo wrong and you still talk out your backside! Where the hell do you get off on this stupid comment? And the other half of you morons have no idea what happened and I DO. The story will be out soon and you will all eat your own words and I hope you never have to deal with your child never coming home again!
39
thank you!!! i have been sickened by people talking about this as if they are all high and mighty! yes, pedestrians have to be careful, but anyone driving has taken on the responsibility of NOT killing people....i am pretty sure it would be tough for anyone in the group to get on the bus and beat up the driver...really, do you have to be so rude...i hope none of you have to go through this ever...i am so sorry for your loss, one of the girls was a really good friend of mine til she moved...we are all devastated
40
Het bubbapaws I haven't seen you run your mouth lately! What happened? Driver got your tongue? Thanks for keeping your mouth shut and all you other people as well. Unless you have info or TRUTH we want to hear Shut Your Pie Hole!
41
hey bubbapaws we haven't heard you run your mouth about this lately. My Trimet killed daughter appreciates you keeping your piehole shut
42
Bubbapaws real name is Jess Rubenstein and writes a lame hockey blog http://theprospectpark.blogspot.com/ let him have it there!
43
A few years ago a law was passed in Oregon that if there is a pedestrian in any part of the crosswalk, a vehicle CANNOT enter the crosswalk. That bus driver should be prosecuted/fine/punished in some form for this. Even if it were a mechanical error, she should have honked to warn them.