Media Silent on Horrific Bus Crash Downtown

1_8_08_DASH.jpg

Hat Tip to alert reader Ingrid Peterson.

Yesterday morning, a DASH bus crashed into a woman in the crosswalk on Flower Street, just after 5th, in the cross walk that leads to LA public library.  First hand accounts of the crash were pretty graphic and the pedestrian is assumed dead since, in the words of one witness, "there were chunks of blood and brains smeared everywhere."  Despite the somewhat spectacular and graphic nature of the crash, it hasn’t been reported on any traditional news outlet, print or broadcast, to the best of my, and google’s, knowledge.

At this point, the cause of the crash hasn’t been determined as a full investigation will be undertaken because the victim passed away. 

The obvious thrust of the investigation will most likely focus on whether or not the bus ran a red light.  Transit watchers county wide have long complained that Metro and other bus drivers can basically ignore red lights without any worry of being stopped.  A thread on Midnight Ridazz on bus driver behavior was full of complaints about red light running and The Bus Bench has already documented that Metro Rapids see red light laws as optional.

While any crash involving a pedestrian is a tragedy, perhaps this is the spark that local transit providers need to take the red light running more seriously.  At this point it’s too early to know whether the driver, pedestrian, or other both were at fault, but what isn’t debateable is whether or not traffic safety laws should apply to all vehicle drivers.

(Update: 10:32 A.M. – The LAPD has confirmed that details are being held until their investigation is finalized.  However, unless there is more of an outcry on the incident, there won’t be any announcements to the press.  Also, LAist has more details on the crash here)

  • Laura

    I saw the aftermath also. I looked online for a news story but saw absolutely nothing. How is it that no one (besides you of course) is talking about this? All day after that I saw buses running red lights and honking to “alert” pedestrians from stepping off the curb. Insane.

  • Anthony

    This is truly sad. Attention is needed on this topic. Everyone I know talks about bus drivers and their red-light running habits.

    When I used to attend class at UCLA, I would daily see multiple Metro buses running a red left-turn light at Wilshire and Westwood, then stopping to let off passengers, blocking two lanes of Wilshire. They act like they are immune from the law because they practically are!

  • I’m still reeling from seeing that HORROR yesterday morning.

    And busses in LA definitely run red lights with impunity.

    Pedestrians and cyclists alike are in serious danger, when habits like there go unchecked.

  • How awful.

    Let’s not jump to conclusions though and assume the driver of the DASH bus was running a red light. The investigation should reveal what happened.

    Regardless, the driver of the bus must be stricken with guilt.

  • KateNonymous

    I wasn’t there, so I don’t know what happened in this tragic case. However, I’ve ridden Big Blue Bus pretty consistently for almost three years, and for the past couple of months have been riding Metro and LADOT Commuter Express.

    I’m really struck by how aggressive some of the Commuter Express drivers are, and how often I’m on a bus that runs a red light. DASH, like Commuter Express, is run by LADOT, so unfortunately this report makes more sense to me than it should.

    Also, I’ve seen drivers on both the Orange Line and Commuter Express barely miss getting into accidents because they were on cell phones.

    Whatever happened in this sad incident, it’s clear to me that bus drivers–across agencies–need more training.

  • Greg

    I’ve been side swiped on my bicycle by a dash bus in downtown right next to the court house. Extremely terrifying. This is just tragic. I’m sure Metro is shoving money down the news companies throats not to report on this.

  • Anonymous

    I wrote the Mayor about the incident and its lack of coverage in the news. I work at 5th & Flower and also saw the aftermath yesterday morning on my way into work. The bus driver was making a left turn onto Flower St and hit the pedestrian in the crosswalk. There is a farmer’s market there on Wednesdays, so I’m assuming maybe he didn’t see the lady. Regardless, the woman was nearly cut in half, and there was a 30′ trail of her blood and biomatter from the point of impact to the point where the bus stopped. How could this possibly have happened if the driver were going the speed limit and following traffic signals?
    I encourage you to e-mail Mayor Villaraigosa at mayor@lacity.org. I read an article in the Daily News about him advocating public transportation, and there was even a picture of him taking an LADOT bus to work. Something needs to be done about these reckless bus drivers. I live downtown and have almost been hit SO many times. I even had a bus driver curse and yell at me out of his window, telling me that “buses have the right of way”. Maybe if regular traffic laws were enforced against the LADOT, and the drivers were made to pay for tickets out of their own pockets, incidents like this wouldn’t happen.

  • I was stunned that nobody covered this either. I’m a journalist and have an abiding interest in what goes on around me, but don’t cover police or traffic or even downtown things. I write about finance in an office with other reporters that do the same work. My big story from yesterday was about a venture capital firm that raised another venture fund. Others covered layoffs and earnings announcements. Maybe journalists are too specialized. Maybe the lack of coverage has to do with layoffs, or the changing nature of what it means to be a journalist. I would have liked to read about this accident in the papers.

  • I am sorry to hear about this. Moreover, it is sad that there is no coverage by LAT or other media that will help pressure DOT to be accountable. That is a very clearly marked crosswalk that many people use daily.

    On a similar note, I have been waiting to see if there are any published reports on the line 4 that on 25 Dec ran a red light, hit a vehicle (which burst into flames) and sent three of the four POV’s passengers to two hospitals. The bus continued south on Hill, which makes it a hit-and-run.I have some information, but have been passed round Metro, LAPD and LASD as each agency states one of the others is responsible. I were on hand to witness the incident’s immediate aftermath. (I was walking through Pershing Square as the incident occurred; there were several eyewitnesses).

    To this day, the busses run red lights very frequently. Even LAPD has acknowledged the fact on record (and I am still working on a report on that, which is an on-going investigation) that 5th is particularly bad, from right behind their Central Div building all the way to Fig. Today I watched cars honking at a Rapid blocking the box at Broadway and 5th for two light cycles after the bus ran a red—even as the cars on Broadway had started moving. (Yeah, I have video of it, of course.)

    Two incidents in two weeks, with three casualties and one possible fatalities is a sign that DOT and Metro need to sort things out, and quickly.

    Please do keep us posted.

  • Laura

    Prayers go out to Glendowyn Coleman’s friends & family! I’m so sorry for your loss. I have worked down town for nine years and walk this very intersection daily. It’s not just Bus’s but cars too. You really have to be aware when walking around down town. It’s completely believable the bus driver ran the red. It was early and dark at 6:30 am. Not too many people walking around at that time. This was a tragedy that people need to be aware of for their own safety as well as these Bus companies, making these drivers responsible for their actions. It’s a daily event for them running lights and speeding and unless the city makes them accountable for their actions, things like this will continue to happen. Speak out to your city council members!! This is the only way to make any kind of difference. Be Safe!

  • This is such a horrific tragedy. There is no reason why Ms. Coleman had to die. Shame on DASH, and shame on the media for not covering this story.

  • I found an LAT article on the incident, after all. Very little has been disclosed by the LAPD, what appear to have issued a brief formal statement.

  • Yeah, here it is:

    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2009/01/pedestrian-kill.html

    the comments on the article are particularly sad as well.

  • Steve Hymon has the story at LA Now, nothing we haven’t seen before, but if the Times called the LAPD then they can’t say that the media isn’t interested in the story anymore. That means updates ought to be forthcoming.

  • This is really sad and even more so because the story wasn’t even given a 20 second mention on the local news. They can report on dogs being stolen from pet stores and endless stories on Britney Spears but no mention of a human life that was tragically ended! How sad! I work at the building in front of this intersection and use this crosswalk almost every Wednesday to walk over to the Farmer’s Market. The DASH buses frequently barrel through the light right on the corner. It’s pretty much a wake up call to all who live and work in the area to be alert!

  • Don

    It is shocking that the news media are not covering this.

    It is equally shocking how quickly people are jumping to place blame. I guess since so many people already know where to place the blame, there was no reason to run a story or investigate.

  • Downtowner

    This happened right in front of my building. I use this crosswalk daily. Cars and especially buses frequently speed through this intersection and run lights. I’ve had cars and buses come so close to me while crossing that I often feel my clothing brushed by their bumpers. Drivers should not be so impatient that there is little regard for human life. Only those present can say for sure what happened – I only witnessed the aftermath. Since one of the crosswalks was closed, I was directed by LAPD to walk to the mid block crosswalk to cross (right past the accident site). I wasn’t aware of what had happened, and can’t believe the sidewalks past the site had not been closed off. Her poor body had been removed, and out of respect for her family and friends, I will spare the graphic details. But what I saw brought me to tears and made me very angry that LAPD would direct me or anyone else to walk past the site without giving any warning that a graphic tragedy had occurred. The bus had to have been traveling fast. I’m also confused that LADOT issued a statement saying she died later at a hospital from her injuries. I don’t believe that was the case. Let her family be at peace that she didn’t suffer long if even at all. It seems like someone is covering up details. My sincere condolences to the family and friends of Ms. Cole. You are in my prayers.

  • Downtowner

    My apologies, her name is Ms. Coleman, not Cole. The earlier LA Times article misprinted her name.

  • Don

    DOWNTOWNER has some amazing skills. Without seeing the patient at all, DOWNTOWNER was able to determine how quickly the pedestrian passed away, and has already declared a conspiracy to cover up the details. Please keep in mind that President Kennedy had a heartbeat at the hospital almost 15 minutes after being shot twice (including once in the head). It may be obvious from the Zapruder film that Kennedy was going to die, but it is not obvious that he was already dead.

    I SUSPECT that DOWNTOWNER might be right that the pedestrian did not suffer. She might have been unconscious. It might have been hopeless, but it is certainly possible that she was alive. It is a bit odd that the media has been slow on covering this. It is very odd to assume that there is a “cover up” going on.

  • Downtowner

    Don,
    I should have clarified. That statement wasn’t based on what I personally witnessed of the aftermath because she had already been transported away when I arrived. Several of my coworkers and others in our building who were here immediately following the incident witnessed that she was clearly deceased. That is why I am confused as to why it is being reported that she died later at a hospital.

  • L.A.

    Just to clarify, I spoke to the 2 Security guards who work in the North side of the Arco towers, who were first on the scene, they were the ones who called 911. When the paramedics arrived, she was covered with a white sheet. If she were alive, she would not have been covered. Not sure why it was stated otherwise?

  • Over at LAist they have a couple shots from an impromptu memorial set up in Gwendolyn’s memory.

    http://laist.com/2009/01/09/the_kindness_of_strangers_memorial.php?gallery0Pic=3#gallery

  • Flower Street

    Received this from my HR dept…

    We have received several inquiries requesting information about the bus accident victim, Gwendolyn Coleman.

    Gwendolyn Coleman was 58 years old and a mother of three (3) adult children and had one (1) grandchild. Gwendolyn worked for Manufacturers Bank for 20 years. Manufacturers Banks has established a fund that will be provided to the family sometime next week.

    If you or your company would like to make a contribution, please send a check made out to Manufacturer’s Bank with Gwendolyn Coleman’s name on the note line. Please send the check to the Human Resource Department located on the second floor at the Manulife building located at the following address:

    Manufacturers Bank

    515 S. Figueroa St.

    Los Angeles, CA 90071

    Phone 213-489-6438

    Fax 213-489-6238

    The family is requesting that in lieu of flowers they prefer donations be made to:

    Calvary Bible Church Children’s Ministry in honor of Gwendolyn Coleman

    Calvary Bible Church

    1101 S. Main Street

    Burbank, CA 91506

    818-556-4840

  • We are the family that has been devastated by this horrific bus accident. The lost of this lovely, sweet lady will be missed by all and truly missed by her very close family. I personally thank all the people who came to her aid and all those who placed the lovely tributes. All the blogs I’ve read speak about the lack of inforcement and reckless behavior of the dash bus drivers. We join with the other blogs to write the mayor and insist this tradgety not go unnoticed. The Gwen Coleman Memorial Bill is in order! Every bus should be equiped with sensors that would alert the bus driver of the possibility of a pedestrian in its path. I know that most who will read this do not know the family. For all of us, this could be a wonderful tribute to Gwen, if the City Council will take appropiate action to pass a bill to make it manditory to cite buses and fit all buses with sensors. This simple action could save lives.

  • We are the family that has been devastated by this horrific bus accident. The loss of this lovely, sweet lady will be missed by all and truly missed by her very close family. I personally thank all the people who came to her aid and all those who placed the lovely tributes. All the blogs I’ve read speak about the lack of inforcement and reckless behavior of the dash bus drivers. We join with the other blogs to write the mayor and insist this tragedy not go unnoticed. The Gwen Coleman Memorial Bill is in order! Every bus should be equiped with sensors that would alert the bus driver of the possibility of a pedestrian in its path. I know that most who will read this do not know the family. For all of us, this could be a wonderful tribute to Gwen, if the City Council will take appropiate action to pass a bill to make it manditory to cite buses and fit all buses with sensors. This simple action could save lives.

  • @ Greg (#5):

    Explain to me, in your conspiracy-oriented mind, why Metro would be “shoving money down the news companies throats not to report” this when it wasn’t even one of their buses.

    DASH is operated by LADOT, and LADOT is not Metro.

  • “Kim”-

    Not only does you belligerent attitude continue to be off-putting to those who might look to learn about Metro and LADOT, but perhaps you might dig deep into your pockets—past that keyring with the escalator keys that you are always letting folk know is evidence of your Metro insider status—and tell us why there has been no article (save for The Bus Bench) about the line 4 hitting a vehicle on xmas day, after said bus ran a red light, left the vehicle in flames (three of the four occupants being sent to area hospitals) and continued on its way (which is a felony hit-and-run)? There were several passengers on board the bus as well as several eyewitnesses.

    I have been in touch with Metro, LAPD and LASD about this, and there is some serious cover-up going on. perhaps you can tell us something about why there has been no formal statement on the incident?

    In any case, just stop being a jerk.

  • madison shover

    because she did, this is her granddaughter, Madison. in the ambulance they had her heart started and revived and she later was pronounced dead at the hospital, don’t preach what you don’t know

  • madison shover

    thank you, for your kindness. this is her granddaughter

  • madison shover

    I don’t know who you are but we definitely don’t have a Nate in our family that I know of lol

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