TriMet, bus manufacturer New Flyer and the plaintiffs involved in the April 24, 2010 fatal bus collision today agreed to settle all state and federal lawsuits related to this incident. TriMet and New Flyer will each pay the plaintiffs $2 million to resolve all of the plaintiffs’ claims, which includes claims outside of the Oregon Tort Claims Act. The plaintiffs are Ryan Hammel, Jamie Hammel, Erik Gittings and the estates of Danielle Sale and Jenee Hammel. The plaintiffs will determine how the settlement will be disbursed among the parties.
TriMet has always accepted responsibility for the negligent driving of the bus operator when she struck five people in a crosswalk, killing two women, Danielle Sale and Jenee Hammel. Portland Police issued TriMet bus operator Sandi Day six misdemeanor traffic citations for not yielding the right-of-way and for making an illegal left turn from NW Glisan onto Broadway. No criminal charges were brought against Day. Two TriMet internal panels and an independent external review all deemed the collision preventable and Day was terminated in August 2010. The Amalgamated Transit Union is challenging Day’s termination and the matter is awaiting arbitration. She was hired as an operator in October 2007.
“This was the worst tragedy in TriMet’s history and we hope this settlement brings a sense of closure for the families,” said TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane. “From this tragedy, TriMet has implemented safety improvements throughout the agency to reduce risks and hazards as we make safety our core value.”
Following the collision, TriMet took several steps, including:
•Launching a comprehensive top-to-bottom review of its operations led by a national safety expert and implementing more than 100 recommendations.
•Evaluating all 79 bus routes, including every turn and lane change, and making changes to a handful of lines to provide more distance between lane changes and/or turns.
•Launching annual bus operator recertification training.
•Hiring a Safety and Security Executive who reports to the General Manager to move the agency toward a culture of safety and migrate the agency to the highest levels of safety performance in all areas of its business.
•Creating a Safety and Service Excellence Task Force to further the work of the comprehensive safety review. TriMet implemented the 19 Task Force recommendations that also included creating a Safety Education Advisory Committee to help the agency partner with transportation and community stakeholders to improve safety education and outreach.
•Improved safety features on all new bus purchases.
Source: TriMet news release