SE Woman Is Struck, Killed by Metrobus
Monday, February 19, 2007
A Metrobus struck and killed a 21-year-old mother and nursing student Saturday night, just three days after another bus ran over two women, prompting Metro officials to repeat their intentions to make all drivers undergo safety training.
After a day of shopping and dinner with friends, Angel Walters was hit about 11:10 p.m. as she got out of the rear seat of a vehicle parked in the 1300 block of Congress Street SE, according to D.C. police. Her friends said she was struck so suddenly that they did not see it happen.
"I looked and saw her get out of the car. She was right by the side of the car," said her friend Garnisha Valentine, 23, during a visit to console Walters's mother. "Then the next thing I knew, the bus came past -- I could feel the wind. And then she was gone."
The empty W2 bus that hit Walters was heading northeast on the narrow two-lane residential street with cars parked on both sides, police said. Walters and three friends were unloading shopping bags and boxes from a sport-utility vehicle parked on the street across from her apartment complex in Congress Heights.
The driver of bus No. 3941 was traveling at or near the speed limit, said Metro spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein. Investigators estimated its speed at 23 to 27 mph, based on skid marks on the road, which measured 87 feet, officials said. Friends said they performed CPR on Walters at the scene, and rescue workers continued it as they sped her to the hospital.
The bus operator, who has driven for Metro since December 2005, was put on paid administrative leave pending the results of routine drug and alcohol tests, officials said. Metro officials would not name him, and he has not been charged in the incident.
Lt. John Kutniewski, who oversees the police department's major crash unit, could not say immediately whether the parking lanes on Congress Street had been completely cleared of ice and snow and said the investigation is continuing.
Officials scrambled yesterday afternoon to respond to what was the fourth death in three fatal accidents involving a Metrobus and a pedestrian this year. On Jan. 16, a D.C. woman was hit by a bus at 16th Street and Park Road NW. And Wednesday, a bus killed two federal employees at Pennsylvania Avenue and Seventh Street NW. The bus driver was charged with negligent homicide.
D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) called a news conference with police, Metro and transportation officials.
"We do recognize this is an abnormally high number of incidents," Fenty said yesterday.
Metro General Manager John B. Catoe Jr., who took over the region's top transportation post three weeks ago, said safety is his top priority. After Wednesday's fatalities involving a 54 bus and two federal employees, Catoe ordered bus supervisors to meet with drivers to reemphasize pedestrian safety. He also mandated that all drivers will receive an annual one- to two-day refresher on pedestrian safety. Until now, that training has been required only of drivers involved in accidents, Catoe said.
Last week the Metro board approved a five-year safety plan that will be carried out by an outside firm. Metro hopes to award a contract next month, and the firm will not be paid unless the system reduces the number of accidents, Catoe said.