Skip to comments.Witnesses: Driver never aided accident victim(Houston transit-reckless driver-who are they hiring?)
Posted on 12/06/2003 9:36:12 AM PST by Diddle E. Squat
Metro employee reportedly remained on bus, made calls
Witnesses to an accident in which a Metro bus struck and killed a man in downtown Houston last month told police the bus driver never checked on the victim after the incident, but remained on the bus making telephone calls and filling out paperwork.
One witness, Mary Acker of Houston, told police that the bus driver -- Alroyce Sheppard -- stepped out of the bus after the accident, looked at the injured man, then got back on the bus and began making telephone calls.
Lisa Egan of Houston, one of the witnesses who tried to comfort the injured victim, told police Sheppard appeared to be filling out paperwork after officers arrived to investigate.
"I saw the bus driver was still on the bus and was not rendering any aid to the victim," Egan told police. When an officer from the Metropolitan Transit Authority arrived four minutes later, Egan said, "the bus driver finally got off the bus, but never came to check on the victim."
Sheppard, 54, was later fired by Metro for "careless conduct and inattention while on duty" and is charged with criminally negligent homicide for the Nov. 3 accident in which 31-year-old Jeffrey Yu-Chang Kao was killed.
Kao suffered massive head trauma as a result of the accident. He died two days later at Memorial Hermann Hospital.
Sheppard's attorney, Doug Durham, disputed witnesses' accounts of his client's actions after the accident.
"I believe he was making every effort to contact emergency personnel, so I don't think he was just doing nothing," Durham said. "Mr. Sheppard has been a bus driver for 19 years. He's devastated by this tragic accident."
Sheppard, who has been released from jail on bond, declined to comment Friday.
Metro policy calls for bus drivers to summon help immediately after an accident and to assist the injured "as possible," said Metro spokesman Ken Connaughton.
Connaughton would not comment on Sheppard's actions after the accident.
"I wasn't there, and I'm not a medical expert, so I can't offer any kind of judgment on what assistance could have been offered," he said.
Police reports say that Kao was in the crosswalk -- with a pedestrian light allowing him to enter the intersection -- when he was struck by Sheppard's bus. Sheppard was making a left turn from Walker onto Smith, the reports say, and failed to yield the right of way to Kao.
One witness, standing with Kao in front of One Shell Plaza before the accident, told police that Sheppard made a wide left turn without appearing to slow the bus. The bus had no passengers aboard at the time.
"He (Sheppard) appeared to be going faster than he would have been making the corner if he had passengers on his bus," Kenneth Hall of Spring told police. "I heard the thud of the bus hitting the man and saw the man flying backward, where he hit the pavement with the back of his head, which made a loud crack."
Witnesses said Kao sat up, bleeding from his left ear, before falling back and remaining still.
"He's dead!" one woman shouted, according to police reports. Kao did not respond to bystanders who tried to help and urged him to remain still.
Court records accuse Sheppard of operating the bus at an unsafe speed, not keeping a proper lookout for traffic and pedestrians, making an improper turn and failing to yield the right of way to a pedestrian.
Sheppard told police he scanned the intersection for cars and pedestrians before turning. He told officers he was unaware he had struck anyone until he stopped the bus and stepped off.
Kao, a lawyer for Shell Oil Co., leaves a pregnant wife and two children, Justin, 4, and Sarah, 2. He was walking from his office tower to a Theater District parking garage, on his way home when the bus struck him.
Members of Kao's family said they were frustrated that state law may limit Metro's liability for Kao's death to $100,000. Tuan Tran, Kao's brother-in-law, said a larger damage award "would probably force a company to change its policy."
"The law is there to help the taxpayers [save money]," Tran said, "but in the long run, who does it really help?"
Kao's relatives also said they want Metro to better screen and train its drivers.
The driver of another Metro bus that hit and killed a Harris County woman Wednesday had previous charges of reckless driving and driving without a license.
Chronicle reporter Lucas Wall contributed to this story.
Perhaps they need to hire EMS people who have bus drivers licences.
This guy was damned if he did / damned if he didn't.
"Metro policy calls for bus drivers to summon help immediately after an accident and to assist the injured "as possible," said Metro spokesman Ken Connaughton."
It would seen he did that.
As far as his driving? I imagine he will be walking [& looking over his shoulder for busses] for a while.
The family of the victim is just playing up their case per their lawyer's instructions for a lawsuit shakedown. What upsets me is that a socialist enterprise enjoys a $100k liability limit yet a private concern would get reamed for $10 million. How is that equal protection under the law? I think everyone should play by the same rules and have reasonable liability limits.
A 4 year old and a 2 year old lose their father days before Christmas, and you can only think of the economics of the situation. You're loaded with compassion this morning.
100K won't last long for the poor widow and children.
Laying the groundwork.
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