A former Metrobus driver was sentenced to a year in prison Friday for a crash in 2008 in which the driver’s bus slammed into a taxicab, killing one of the cab’s passengers.
At Friday’s hearing in D.C. Superior Court, the wife of the dead tourist, Bartlett M. Tabor, and the driver, Ronald W. Taylor, gave impassioned statements about the crash’s effect on their lives.
Taylor’s supporters and relatives of Tabor, 55, of Alamo, Calif., filled the courtroom.
“I will forever have etched in my memory the image of my husband embedded in the dashboard and my children screaming to help their daddy,” said Katherine Tabor, who was injured in the Sept. 28, 2008 crash, as were the Tabors’ two children.
Prosecutors had sought a three-year sentence for Taylor, 41, of Laurel, arguing that he was driving about 16 mph over the speed limit on a rainy night as he rushed an empty, out-of-service bus to a garage before his dinner break.
Authorities do not think that Taylor was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the crash.
His attorney called the crash a “tragic accident” in which Taylor, who had joined Metro six months before, misread a traffic signal at Virginia Avenue and 19th Street NW.
Bartlett Tabor was sitting in the middle row of a minivan taxi without his seat belt fastened, according to Taylor’s attorney. Tabor’s wife and children, then 9 and 10 years old, were belted in the back.
On Friday, Katherine Tabor spoke to Judge Ronna L. Beck about her husband’s life and the family’s struggle to cope with his death. Her children, sitting with relatives in the courtroom, wiped away tears. The children have suffered from nightmares, anguish and other emotional problems because of Taylor’s “selfish actions,” she told Beck.
Taylor also wiped away tears as Katherine Tabor spoke.
“This was a terrible accident,” Taylor told the judge. “I can apologize to the Tabor family over and over again, but it won’t bring him back.
“I did not plan this,” Taylor said. “I ask for mercy.”
In April 2011, prosecutors charged Taylor with one count of negligent homicide, and he pleaded guilty in March. A spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment on the decision to file charges after almost three years.
Metro fired Taylor shortly after the crash, concluding that he had run a red light. A labor arbitrator disagreed with the decision, saying a witness account was not credible, and Metro reinstated Taylor as a station manager in June 2010. But Taylor was fired again after pleading guilty.
After his March plea, Taylor was also ordered back to prison for violating parole in connection with Maryland drug and gun possession cases from the 1990s. He will serve 18 more months in prison for the Maryland convictions before he begins his one-year term for the traffic fatality. Taylor had spent 12 years in prison before he was released on parole.
Beck called the crash a result of “reckless, careless negligence, but not intentional.”
She praised Taylor for avoiding arrests since 1994 and finding legitimate employment when he was released from prison after his drug convictions.