Personal Injury Attorney
The Washington Post says the tour bus driver who struck and killed the mayor of an Alaskan town and her mother in Washington was on his cellphone at the time of the accident.
Gerard James of Baltimore, Maryland, hit mayor Monica Adams Carlson and her 85-year-old mother, Cora Adams, as they were crossing Pennsylvania Avenue near the capital’s Navy Memorial and the National Archives. They had the walk sign when the tour bus driven by James hit them in the crosswalk. One of the women was caught underneath the bus and dragged for around 183 feet before it stopped.
Police say that James passed drug and alcohol screenings, his commercial license was valid, and he had no prior history of traffic violations. The bus was also in good working order at the time of the crash and had no passengers. The bus driver says he did not see the victims—who were in the D.C. area to see Christmas decorations and other sights—and that he stopped once he heard the impact.
Surveillance video obtained from cameras inside the bus that showed the crash from two different angles were turned over to police by the bus company. One video showed James on his phone while he was driving, according to the court filing in the case. He put the phone down as he entered the intersection, but it rang just a moment later and he picked it back up as he started turning. The crash can be heard on the video footage.
The bus operator, Eyre Bus, Tour & Travel, has not responded to interview requests about the incident. A spokesperson for the American Bus Association, which spoke for the Maryland-based bus company previously, also declined to comment and referred any questions to the attorney for James.
A judge in the Superior Court recently ordered James to be released until a scheduled preliminary hearing on his charges in mid-February. The bus driver has been charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter.
This tragic accident shares similarities with another fatal crash in the same spot back in 2007. That incident led to local officials adjusting a traffic signal so pedestrians get an earlier start for crossing.
In the 2007 accident, two workers from the Federal Trade Commission were struck by a public bus as they were crossing with a walk signal. The bus driver in that case pled guilty to negligent homicide and received a sentence of six months in jail and three years of probation.
These latest traffic deaths bring the total number of traffic deaths in D.C. to 35, with 14 pedestrian deaths, which is an increase of five from last year. This year’s fatality total is the highest the area has seen since 2008, when there were 39 traffic-related deaths.
Distracted driving is quickly becoming the leading cause of traffic deaths and accidents. This dangerous trend is only likely to get worse as more and more mobile devices enter the market. If you’ve been hurt by a distracted driver, seek legal advice from a Denver, CO bus accident lawyer about your case.
Thank you to our friends and contributors at Richard J. Banta, P.C. for their insight into bus accidents and distracted driving.