Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on September 10th, 2010 at 12:35 pm
wheel of a TriMet bus after the
collision last Thursday.
(Photos: Bill Jackson)
In a major update to our story from last week, the Portland Police Bureau has issued a citation to TriMet bus operator John Nations in a crash that occurred August 12th at SW 6th and Morrison in downtown Portland.
According to TriMet Communications Director Mary Fetsch, the bus operator, 39 year-old John Nations from Beaverton, has been cited in violation of ORS 811.335, "Unlawful or unsignaled turn." Here's more from Fetsch:
"Police described the turn as unlawful because it was made from the center lane. The operator had moved into the center lane from the travel lane in order to make a wide turn to clear the light rail vehicle at Pioneer Square North station."
TriMet says that 37 year-old Richard Krebs, who was hit by Nations as he turned left from the transit mall onto SW Morrison, was also given a citation. Krebs, who was on his bicycle, suffered a broken clavicle and required skin graft surgeries on his leg.
TriMet initially told the public that the bus operator had performed a "button hook" turn, which is a recommended maneuver for creating more space during a left turn because it does not lead the bus into the adjacent lane (see graphic at right). However, after being questioned about the incident, TriMet operations spokesperson Josh Collins acknowledged that the type of turn Nations actually made was closer to a "jug-handle" turn. Jug handles are specifically not recommended in the ODOT Commercial Drivers Manual because they result in a swerve into the adjacent lane prior to the turn (the exact type of movement that likely had something to do with this collision).
There are still many unanswered questions about this incident. There is still no word about the on-board video from the incident. With citation decisions made, I expect it would be released soon. The video might be able to answer remaining questions about whether or not Krebs ran a yellow light (which I have finally confirmed he has been cited for), and which lane the bus operator was traveling in prior to the left turn.
Read our full coverage of this story here.
UPDATE, 5:10 pm: A story in The Oregonian says that the bus operator was "assaulted". Reporter Joseph Rose says TriMet told him John Nations is currently out on worker's comp due to the alleged "assault". I asked TriMet's Mary Fetsch to clarify. She said via email that Nations was assaulted by a bystander at the scene and that there were minor injuries and no arrests. There is no record of assault anywhere in the police report. There are two mentions of what Fetsch might be referring to in the police report.
The first is from Nations' statement to responding officer Kent Scott. According to the police report, when Nations' bus came to rest atop Krebs' leg, people began screaming and telling him to put it in reverse. Here's what Officer Scott wrote in the report after that: "He [Nations] opened the window and stuck his head out when someone "clobbered" me."
That "someone" is likely a witness named J. Smith. Here's an excerpt from Smith's witness statement: "Smith said the driver seemed confused so he clapped his hands in front of the driver's face."
Krebs himself told me he vaguely remembers "someone coming up and putting their hands on his face, but certainly didn't punch him."
It's reasonable to assume that Nations' memory of being "clobbered" is clouded by the fact that it happened in an extremely tense moment (someone under the wheel of his bus, with crowds of screaming people nearby). It's also worth remembering that TriMet got their information that Nations was "assaulted" in the same way they got information that Krebs had been given a citation (when he hadn't), that Nations made a legal turn (when he hadn't) and that Krebs was riding at a "high rate of speed" (when he wasn't).
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