The Berkeley Police Deparment reports that there was a collision after 4:00pm this afternoon involving a bus operated by Berkeley Lab and two pedestrians at Center Street and Shattuck Avenue. At least one of the pedestrians was seriously injured and has been transported to a local trauma center, according to Sgt. Mary Kusmiss. Kusmiss says the police began receiving calls at approximately 4:28pm. “A large crowd formed that had to be asked to move back so that the Berkeley Fire Department personnel could work. The crowd was exhibiting a great deal of verbal energy, taking photographs and such.” She says there were no significant altercations.

Update, 18:25: According new information from the BPD, and according to preliminary details, the bus was travelling westbound on Center Street and was making a right/northbound turn onto northbound Shattuck Avenue. The two women knew each other and were walking together in the crosswalk [wesbound in the north crosswalk crossing Shattuck Avenue] when one of the women was struck and run over by the bus. The other woman banged on the bus with her hand(s) to gain the driver’s attention and was injured as a result. The woman who was struck was extricated from under the bus by BFD personnel. She sustained serious injuries to her lower extremities and was transported to a local trauma center for medical treatment. The other woman has been treated and released but understandably is very upset.

Update, 20.30: From the BPD: Three members of BPD who each have extensive collision investigation experience are handling the investigation. A BPD Motor Officer just shared that the woman, born January 1957, has very serious open fractures and will require surgeries, hospitalization  and yet, it appears that she will survive.

Tracey Taylor

Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...

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19 Comments

  1. I can’t believe it. The comments and assumptions being made. The police report isn’t even out yet. Shame on you. The LBNL
    Drivers are safe and professional. IT WAS AN ACCIDENT!! NO ONE IS GUILTY UNTIL PROVEN SO. Just saying….

  2. Bus drivers – be they AC Transit, LBL, Cal — are accountable to no one, and could give a rats ass about your safety. After being hit, rammed (in an auto), cut off and run into on-coming traffic (on my bike), and witnessing many similarly blatant and obnoxious acts by pubic transit drivers in Berkeley, I have tried various methods of lodging a complaint but there doesn’t appear to be any effective route. Recently clocked a 1R going south on Telegraph at almost 60mph a couple months ago — don’t these guys have GPS monitoring? Is nobody bothering to keep an eye on them?

    Once I flagged down an AC Transit “supervisor” at Center & Shattuck after witnessing a particularly blatant incident. He turned out to be some late-career fat-ass do-nothing just sitting in his car .. gave me some blah-blah-blah and a tossed me a form to fill out and mail in. Several times I tried the AC transit web site .. total joke, there’s an incident reporting feature but it’s a black hole. Tried too to get the driver’s attention a few times and gotten surprisingly foul-mouthed and over-the-top nasty responses. Try it, you’ll see – some of these folks are really special.

    There are too many criminally indifferent and obnoxious bus drivers … I’ve been told Muni is worse, but that’s not setting the bar very high.

  3. When faster safer cheaper is your motto one can only guess that the outsourced bus drivers may feel pressured to keep to a schedule similar to that of a Henry Ford assembly line.

  4. I am a graduate student who also works at LBL. Regarding the outsourcing of lab services to an outside company: while I did not support this change, I have noticed that the new drivers are nothing but professional and the newer fleet of smaller shuttles are much more maneuverable than the old school buses they used to use. I have heard the drivers talk on many occasions of how the buses are equipped with cameras/devices that record sudden braking and that these events are watched closely by their management. My anecdotal evidence suggests that the drivers are generally very careful to stop for pedestrians and that yesterday’s tragic accident, regardless of fault, is not indicative of any systemic problems.

  5. Mike, good point. I was assuming the bus hit the pedestrians head-on, and the driver did not see them right in front of the bus. It is possible that they were sideswiped by the rear of the bus, as you suggest.

  6. There is not enough information in this story or the police press releases to determine fault.

    @Chuck; If the bus driver has pulled forward and begun his turn where do you want him to be looking? Forward in the direction he’s moving or backwards?
    A pedestrian could begin crossing at that point, and stop to let the bus pass, not realizing that the rear wheels follow a vastly different track.
    I’ve seen too much mindless action in traffic by drivers, cyclists, pedestrians, and even wheelchair users to begin assigning blame on inadequate information.

  7. Yes, I hear that they are now contractor drivers.

    My impression is that the accident occurred when the pedestrians were crossing with the green light and the bus also had a green light and made a right-turn into the crosswalk without seeing the pedestrians there.

    I hope there is a thorough investigation to see if the driver was negligent. It is hard for me to imagine how someone could fail to see pedestrians in the crosswalk.

  8. Haven’t there been proposals to make that stretch of Center into a pedestrian-only zone? It could be very nice if the restaurants on that block had the ability to put tables out into a promenade, like 3rd street in Santa Monica, or Belden in SF. But the panhandlers of Downtown need to go or they’ll just set up shop there — hearing someone braying about the Street Spirit at the top of his lungs does not a dining ambiance create.

    At any rate, it is a very tricky area to navigate in a car (or on a bike). Pedestrians tend to be college or high school age with a concomitant sense of invulnerability, situational colorblindness with respect to traffic signals, and a belief that traffic laws can trump laws of physics. Even when you have the right of way, I’ve found that it’s best not to insist on it, especially when there’s a significant difference in mass. I’d rather be able to walk than in a wheelchair fighting legal battles to garnish some bus driver’s wages.

    Obviously drivers have to do their part too, but when they don’t… the cyclists’ advice to “ride like you’re invisible” goes for pedestrians too.

  9. This has occurred no less than two times at Shattuck and Vine as far I know and it actually included a bus the last time around. I am sorry to report the pregnant woman died along with her child. It’s fully ‘treacherous’ as well as insidious as one has the illusion of safety as per the 4 way well lit and fully operational red~ green stop and crosswalk safety lights. The only hope I have seen in this arena for pedestrians has been on Adeline and M. L. King near the Ashby BART station where the zebra pedestrian crossings are now additionally outfitted with powerful daylight LED strobe bars mounted on the utility poles at about ten feet in height and can be seen at a very long distance, as well as give a powerful and clear message to “Stop” and “Halt” as the crosswalk is now being utilized. This is the only *practical* solution I have seen to fully stop any and all traffic at any pedestrian crossing. What I would like to know is why this has not been done all over Berkeley and if not are these part of some traffic analysis study or did people have to fight tooth and nail for years to get these installed and what is the price of such an installation vs. the loss of life, injury and litigation. Forget traffic enforcement, stop signs, traffic stings and the like. They *can* help if done consistently across time, however this is much more cost effective and is similar if not better to the dual traffic speed signs that post the traffic limit and then additionally your current speed in real time just under than and then rapidly blink and force one visually to slow down to 25 mph. etc. If the cost is high, then have them sponsored by local Berkeley corporations and businesses. I would gladly pay so much per month for these in my neighborhood, so maybe even the local neighborhood groups could push and raise the funds to have these installed. These should be standard at all Berkeley pedestrian crossings and not optional.

    UPDATE 7:30 am by Berkeleyside administrator: This comment has been edited to remove some language that might be offensive to others

  10. Very sad. I was across the street during the aftermath — I didn’t linger or try to get a closer look, but was able to see the crowds/emergency vehicles. I also saw the bus driver, who looked visibly shaken. It was indeed off-putting to see what a spectacle the accident had become, but at the same time, I can’t blame people for wanting to look. Rather than being intentionally disrespectful, Sj, I feel like the air was one of concern and curiosity. It also happened in an area with heavy pedestrian traffic (right by the BART station) and at the beginning of rush hour.

  11. Seriously . .. the Berk Lab buses drive faster and fly by pedestrians. If someone reads this and disbelieves my statement, stand at the NE corner of Center and Shattuck around 6 p.m. right near dusk when there are lots of pedestrians, buses and cars and just watch. The Berk Lab buses fly up Center and fly around the corner, they bear down and often it seems like drivers aim at pedestrians, as if they want to intimidate us into getting out of their way. I instinctively stop when I see the Berk Lab buses and I have wondered if they are pressured to be on time and if they are pressured to do their runs faster than is reasonable. Something is going on with those buses that make them more dangerous than the AC Transit buses.

  12. I have empathy and concern for the woman who got run over by a Berkeley Lab bus today. That is completely unacceptable. I don’t understand why people taking photos of the accident was any kind of problem. I don’t understand why some reports make it sound like there was something wrong with nearby humans responding with care and interest in the drama that happened right in front of them.

    And I know what I am about to write is an over-generalization and maybe meaningless but I think the Berkeley Lab buses fly around in what sure seems negligent behavior to me. The Berk Lab buses seem to fly faster, seem to disregard lights and pedestrians. It’s almost as if they think they have some kind of priority.

    I also think that the intersection at Shattuck, Alston and Center and the little triangle that makes up the ‘square’ has lots of traffic risks. I have nearly been hit by a couple AC Transit drivers when I have definitely been walking WITH the walk light. It is a very congested corner and drivers pull into the crosswalks when they really shouldn’t, as if they assume buses have priority over humans.

    And there is this: even if a pedestrian has ignored a walk light and is walking when they aren’t supposed to, guess what? It’s still not okay for buses to hit people. If a person is walking against the light, the drivers’ liability will be diminished but it is not ‘okay’ to run over humans.

    I’d like to see cops giving bus drivers tickets.

    I have called AC Transit several times in the last three months about buses pulling within inches of me when I am still in the crosswalk, the pedestrian light is very definitely still on but the bus driver, apparently, is in a hurry. The AC buses pull away from the NE corner at Center and Shattuck, then they cross two sets of lights and take a left onto Shattuck to head south. . ..it takes a long time to walk all the way across Shattuck there, right by the BART round. .. it’s two sets of lights. . . .

    I swear there have been three incidents in within the last three months when buses pulled in front of me when I was in the crosswalk WITH the walk light in my favor and if I had not moved back, the bus would have hit me. The drivers know pedestrians are there, they inch forward and they rely on the pedestrian jumping back. If a bus pulls so close to me that I can hit it with my hand, that driver is in the wrong . . if I have the walk light.

    I have lived in downtown Berkeley for two years now. The safety of pedestrians has deteriorated a lot. More and more, drivers pull into crosswalks when pedestrians have the light. If people don’t believe this, they must travel in their own cars a lot. The driving behavior in downtown Berkeley is often unacceptable and disrespectful of pedestrians. I wish cops would dedicate time to issuing tickets for this problem. And, sure, ticket pedestrians if they are walking against lights . . .but that’s not the real problem.

    Buses in this part of Berkeley are teacherous.

  13. Something about The square bordered by Oxford, Shattuck, Allston and Center is very difficult to drive. Pedestrians cross without regard to traffic lights in varioud directions.

  14. While the injured may have been photographed after the accident, the pictures taken will also be part of the evidence used to assess culpability for the situation. If this were a crime (is it technically?), they would document as much as possible and request eye-witness accounts for the purpose of prosecution. It is hard to deny or alter multiple sources of photographic evidence.

  15. Those buses are dangerous. I was hit by one at the corner of University and Oxford (westbound on University) as a college student.

  16. I think its a damned shame that when these people were seriously injured, they had no expectation of privacy, and that passersby would be so lacking in respect as to take pictures. really bad show.