Sunday, April 25, 2010

TriMet bus strikes group of pedestrians, killing 2, seriously injuring a third

Police say it could be later this week before they figure out exactly what happened when a TriMet bus struck a group of pedestrians in downtown Portland late Saturday, trapping several under the bus and killing two women.

The accident occurred just before midnight at Northwest Broadway and Glisan Street. Police found several pedestrians under the bus when they arrived.

Police Sunday identified the dead women as Jenee Hammel, 26, of Gresham, and Danielle Sale, 22, of Vancouver.

Robert E. Gittings, 22, an Idaho resident, was listed in serious condition Sunday at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center. Ryan Hammel, 28, and his wife, Jamie Hammel, 23, of Portland, suffered minor injuries and were taken to local hospitals, police said. Jenee Hammel is Ryan Hammel's younger sister. No passengers were on the bus, which was out of service at the time, according to TriMet.

It's unclear whether all the victims knew one other, said Sgt. Greg Stewart, a Portland police spokesman. He also said he didn't know where they were going or coming from.

View Larger Map

The bus was westbound on Glisan as it turned left onto
southbound Broadway and struck the westbound pedestrians crossing
Broadway, Stewart said. The bus had a green light and the pedestrians
had a walk signal, he said.

Stewart said that it could be until the middle of this week or longer
until police have a better idea of what happened. He said they are
trying to reconstruct the crash scene, but that the process is complex
because of the number of witnesses. He said ultimately, the district
attorney will decide whether anyone is charged in connection with the incident.

Yuxing Zheng/The Oregonian
Only a stack of orange cones Sunday morning marked the intersection where a TriMet bus struck several pedestrians late Saturday.
Speed and alcohol do not appear to be factors, police said.

Responding fire officials found one victim already dead under the rear tires of the bus, and two possible survivors under the front of the bus,
said Lt. Rich Tyler, a Portland Fire Bureau spokesman. Fire crews used tools to lift the bus and free the two individuals from the front, Tyler
said. One of those two victims was pronounced dead at the scene, and crews transported the other victim to Emanuel.

Police identified the TriMet bus driver as Sandi L. Day, 48, who is cooperating with authorities. She was coming off a break and was driving an out-of-service bus on her way to start a new trip on the No. 9
(Powell/Broadway) route, said Bekki Witt, a TriMet spokeswoman.

Day was immediately tested for drugs, per TriMet policy, and was offered counseling, Witt said. Day has been placed on paid administrative leave while police investigate the incident. She has driven buses for TriMet since being hired in October 2007. Witt could not immediately provide more details about Day's driving history.

"Obviously, this is a terrible tragedy," Witt said. "We're supporting the Portland police in the investigation."

Authorities were on the scene until 4:45 a.m. and rerouted traffic to side streets. "There were so many witnesses, and it was a very chaotic scene," Stewart said.

Before Saturday night's accident, TriMet had been involved in 29 bus-related fatalities since 1998. Most recently, 15-year-old Austin Miller died in February 2008 after being struck by a No. 52 (Farmington/185th) bus at Southwest Murray Boulevard and Farmington Road
in Beaverton.

-- Yuxing Zheng, Rebecca Woolington

No comments: