A tragic crash downtown last night killed two young Portlanders after a TriMet bus plowed into a group of five pedestrians crossing NW Broadway.

The crash occurred as TriMet driver Sandi L. Day was turning left onto Broadway from west-bound Glisan Street with a green light just before midnight last night. Pedestrians also had the walk signal and Day crashed into a group of five young people in the crosswalk. Police arrived to find some of the group still trapped under the bus. Robert Gittings, 22, was sent to the hospital with critical injuries while 23 and 28-year-olds Jamie and Ryan Hammel (possibly newlyweds) suffered minor injuries.

Police declared two women dead at the scene: a 22 and 26-year-old whose names have not yet been released, pending notification of their families.

Portland police officer Sgt Greg Stewart says 10 officers are currently working on the investigation into what happened. There are numerous witnesses, says Stewart, and the police will get their eyewitness accounts and investigate evidence from the crash scene before deciding whether to press criminal charges against Ms. Day.

NW Glisan and Broadway
  • NW Glisan and Broadway

"The driver did not appear to be under the influence. There's no tell-tale signs that alcohol was involved in the crash," says Stewart. The police initially believe that speeding was also not a factor in the crash. So was this a mechanical failure or a straight-up lapse on the part of the driver? Police and TriMet say it's too soon in the investigation to tell.

"Since 1988, we have had 29 fatals involving a bus, not including the ones last night," says TriMet spokeswoman Bekki Witt. The last fatality involving a TriMet bus was in February 2008, when a driver on SW Farmington road killed a 15-year-old cyclist.

Day has only been with TriMet since October 2007. Witt was not sure whether Day had any history of crashes or whether the downtown route was her regular one. The bus was out of service at the time of the crash and after the police wrap up their criminal investigation, TriMet will launch an internal investigation.

Police say there were numerous witnesses to the crash. Did you see what happened? Email me here.

Update 1:02 pm— TriMet confirms the name of one of the fatally injured pedestrians: The pedestrian has been identified as 26-year-old Jenee Hammel. She is the sister of Ryan Hammel and Jamie Hammel's sister-in-law. So sad. My best wishes are going out to the family.

Update 8:45 pm— The police have released the name of the second woman who was killed, 22-year old Danielle Sale of Vancouver, WA.

MikeOnFoot posted this chart of TriMet bus fatalities (pdf) to the comments. TriMet had the number of fatalities since 1988 wrong earlier today. Before last night, there had been 30 people killed by a TriMet bus since 1988, not 29. Eight of those 30 were pedestrians and (if you're curious) the most deadly route has been the #4.

A makeshift memorial has gone up at NW Glisan and Broadway, The One True B!X snapped a photos and left it in the comments as well.