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DASH Accident Leaves Pedestrian Dead

By Eric Richardson
Published: Thursday, January 08, 2009, at 10:30AM

A 58-year-old female pedestrian was struck by a DASH bus at the intersection of 5th and Flower at approximately 6:30am on Wednesday morning, and passed away after being transported to the hospital. LAPD is investigating the incident.

Over at Streetsblog, Damien asks whether the incident could have been related to the tendency of buses to run red lights.

At this point, the cause of the crash hasn't been determined as a full investigation will be undertaken because the victim passed away. However, since I arrived in Los Angeles I've heard stories that buses run red lights with impunity. A thread on Midnight Ridazz on bus driver behavior was full of complaints 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 this issue more seriously. However, we could certainly use incidents such as this one to move off the blogs and message boards and into the newspapers and airwaves.

Update (11:10am): More from LAist:

A few people have been asking what happened yesterday morning downtown near Central Library where a large memorial with flowers sits today. A pedestrian was hit by a DASH bus at 5th and Flower around 6:35 a.m. in the morning.

Gwendolyn Coleman, 58, sustained injuries in the crash and later died at the hospital, according to Bruce Gilman of the Department of Transportation who contracts First Transit to operate their downtown fleet. The bus was turning left onto Flower St. where the woman was struck while in the crosswalk, explained LAPD Media Relations Officer Ana Aguirre.

Asked if Coleman was crossing the street legally, Detective Josephine Mapson of Central Traffic Division said that was still unclear and the incident is still under investigation.

Update (Monday): As of Friday night, LAPD told the LA Times' Steve Hymon that Coleman was in the crosswalk legally:

Police are now saying that a pedestrian killed Wednesday morning in downtown Los Angeles was legally in a crosswalk when the accident occurred.

Gwendolyn Coleman, 58, of Burbank was hit by a city of Los Angeles DASH bus at 5th and Flower streets about 6:35 a.m. Coleman had the green light to cross and the driver of the bus did not see her because of a blind spot, said Richard French, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Department.

The DASH bus was turning from 5th onto Flower when the accident happened. First Transit, the company that operates the buses for the city, said Thursday that the driver of the bus had been put on suspension pending an investigation.

To sum up: both had the green, but at this stage it appears to be driver error that caused the tragic accident.

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