April 30th, 2010 5:33 pm | by JAMES PITKIN News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, CLEAN UP

TriMet Crash: Did Driver Make an Illegal Turn?


New information released by Portland police raises the question of whether the driver of the TriMet bus that on April 24 struck five pedestrians — killing two of them and seriously injuring a third — was making an illegal turn.

TriMet and the bus driver's union are releasing little information about what driver Sandi Day has said about the accident. TriMet spokeswoman Becky Witt tells WW the transit agency is waiting for police to complete their investigation of the crash.

Shortly after the crash, TriMet officials said Day was driving an empty out-of-service bus. The transit agency later corrected that statement, saying the empty bus was in service. And now police announced today they've located a man who exited the bus "just prior to the accident."

When police were seeking the man — whom they have not identified — they said not only that he exited the bus "just prior to the accident," but that Day let him off on the "north curb" on Northwest Glisan Street.

That's a crucial detail, because it suggests Day may have made her left turn onto Northwest Broadway illegally.

Check out this helpful diagram produced by The Oregonian. Glisan is a one-way street, and Day was headed west on Glisan when she made a left to begin heading south on Broadway. The pedestrians were crossing Broadway walking west when they were hit.

The diagram shows Day turning from the left lane on Glisan. But if she dropped off her passenger on the right-hand side of the street just moments before, as the information from police suggests, it raises the possibility that Day was in the right lane on Glisan when she made the left turn onto Broadway — an illegal turn.

And if that's the case, Day may have been looking backward as she made the turn, to avoid colliding with other vehicles on Glisan.

Detective Mary Wheat, a spokeswoman for the police, says the law against turning across a lane on a one-way applies to TriMet buses. Other than special bus lanes and the requirement to yield to buses when they're pulling away from a stop, Wheat says there are no exceptions for buses.
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