Crash That Injured D.C. Jogger Wasn't Metrobus Driver's First

By James Hohmann
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Metrobus driver who struck and critically injured a 30-year-old jogger near Dupont Circle this month had been involved in two on-the-job accidents during the previous seven years and received five traffic tickets in January, court records show.

Carla A. Proctor, 43, of Southeast Washington was driving an empty bus Sept. 3, heading east on Florida Avenue NW, when she hit Amanda Mahnke, communications director for Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Wash.), at Connecticut Avenue NW, according to a police report.

It wasn't Proctor's first accident.

On March 7, 2003, Proctor stepped out of her bus to check on a faulty door in the 1300 block of Morris Road, near the intersection with Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE, according to court records. Lawsuits filed against Proctor and Metro alleged that the brake wasn't properly set and that the empty bus rolled down a hill and struck a car, setting off a chain of crashes that damaged seven vehicles as well as the bus.

Metro denied liability, but a Prince George's County Circuit Court jury awarded $27,713 in damages to three plaintiffs who had consolidated their cases. Metro paid the judgment. Court records show another claim was settled out of court.

Metro spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said investigators determined that the accident was "preventable." Proctor received "remedial training" afterward, she said.

The agency categorizes accidents as preventable or non-preventable, Farbstein said. Metro policy says an employee will be dismissed after four "preventable-minor" accidents or three "preventable-major" accidents on the job within 365 days, she said. She added in an e-mail that "someone can be dismissed if they are involved in a preventable accident where the operator has shown gross negligence."

On Dec. 30, 2004, Proctor crashed a Metro bus into the back of a parked vehicle as she turned on to the 1300 block of Wisconsin Avenue from O Street in Northwest Washington, according to a lawsuit that said a 72-year-old woman on the bus was injured in the accident. The woman and her husband, of Callao, Va., sued Metro in D.C. Superior Court, alleging that Proctor had acted "carelessly, recklessly and negligently."

The case went to mediation, and the couple signed an agreement not to discuss the details of a settlement reached in August 2008.

Metro investigators determined that the accident was preventable, Farbstein said. Proctor received remedial training again for the accident, which the agency categorized as "preventable-minor," Farbstein said.

Proctor was involved in an off-duty accident in July 2003. According to a police report and court records, she was turning left across oncoming traffic into a Wendy's parking lot in Oxon Hill when a car hit her personal 2002 Mazda Protege and caused Proctor's car to crash through the front window of the restaurant. The other car fled the scene and was later reported stolen, records say.

Two women who were eating inside the restaurant filed suit against Proctor, court records show. Proctor's attorney argued that she did not act negligently. In 2006, the case was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount, said Stephen F. Brennwald, who represented the plaintiffs.

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