METRO

$2.3 Million Settlement Reached in '07 Accident

Two Women in Crosswalk Killed by Bus

Gregory Schoenborn wipes away a tear while announcing the settlement in the accident, which killed his wife and her friend.
Gregory Schoenborn wipes away a tear while announcing the settlement in the accident, which killed his wife and her friend. (By Dominic Bracco Ii -- The Washington Post)
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Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, June 14, 2008; Page B05

Metro has agreed to pay $2.3 million to settle a lawsuit filed by a man whose wife was struck and killed by a Metrobus last year.

Gregory Schoenborn said he wanted to hold the agency accountable for the Feb. 14 accident that killed his wife, Martha Stringer Schoenborn, 59, and her friend Sally Dean McGhee, 54. The women, co-workers at the Federal Trade Commission, were struck by the bus while in a downtown crosswalk.

Holding up two poster-sized photographs of his wife and her friend, Schoenborn called the settlement "blood money." But he said he hoped that it would lead to better training and safer driving by Metro.

"Today is not a day of closure but the closing of one of the chapters towards healing," he said.

The Metrobus driver, Victor Kolako, pleaded guilty in September to two felony counts of negligent homicide. In December, he was sentenced to a year in jail.

Schoenborn filed the suit in U.S. District Court. McGhee's family has also filed a wrongful death lawsuit in federal court. That case is set for trial Oct. 17.

Martha Schoenborn and McGhee, both of Alexandria, had just left work and had a "walk" signal when they were hit by Kolako, who failed to look while making a left turn from Seventh Street NW onto Pennsylvania Avenue. They were among five pedestrians killed in Metrobus accidents last year.

"Criminal justice has been done. Now civil justice has been done," said Peter C. Grenier, Schoenborn's attorney.

Metro spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said the agency was sorry about what took place and called the settlement fair. The agency has made safety enhancements, she said.

Metro recently conducted a program in which about 3,000 bus drivers and supervisors gathered at busy intersections in the District to observe pedestrians, buses and other vehicles near the crosswalks. Metro also installed amber flashing lights on 100 buses on a trial basis to alert pedestrians to their approach.

The D.C. Department of Transportation added a left-turn lane and a left-turn arrow at the intersection where the accident occurred.


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