Washington state’s King County Metro Transit will pay $7.7 million to the wife of a Seattle man who was struck and killed by a transit bus while crossing a downtown Seattle street last year.
John Ahn, a 43-year-old Amazon employee and father of a young son, was crossing Westlake Ave. after having dinner with coworkers when a King County Metro Transit making a right turn struck and killed him.
According to The Seattle Times, the transit bus struck Mr. Ahn in the crosswalk, knocking him down. He struggled to get out of the bus’s path but the rear wheels of the accordion-like transit bus ran over him.
King County issued Mr. Ahn’s wife a $4.5 million check in July and agreed to pay her a total of $7.7 million in a settlement reached in mediation over the deadly October 2017 accident.
“No measure of my regret comes close to soothing the pain of loss experienced by the family, and nothing Metro can provide fills the void our organization has created,” Metro General Manager Rob Gannon told The Seattle Times. “I met with [Ahn’s wife] in person. I hope I was able to express how sorry I am.”
Ken Price, the president of a local transit union, told The Seattle Times that bad bus designs, not the driver, are to blame for the accident.
“This certainly sheds a light on a big issue in transit today — poor bus designs and no pedestrian warning systems,” Price told The Seattle Times. “But will King County do what it takes to save lives?” The paper reported that the union “perennially urges transit agencies to demand vehicles with better sight lines.”
Brian Sherlock, national safety specialist for the Amalgamated Transit Union, suggests Metro use buses with a clear, single-swing bus door for better vision instead of the double-paneled doors its transit buses currently have. The driver’s view may also be obstructed by the windshield frame, especially when turning tight corners such as the one where Mr. Ahn was killed.
King County Metro Transit can also use in-dash alarms that warn the driver of pedestrians and other obstacles in the bus’s blind spot, but it has chosen not to implement those technologies, according to The Seattle Times.
The 68-year-old driver of the bus was fired after the crash, but the union is appealing her termination. According to The Seattle Times, the driver has a clean history of driving buses for three decades. Criminal charges are also possible, but prosecutors declined to file them.
Mr. Sherlock told The Seattle Times that buses turning corners kill about 35 people every year in North America. In King County, Washington, alone there were 155 collisions between buses and pedestrians between 2012 to late 2017, resulting in 68 injuries. From 2015 to late 2017 there were five deaths caused by collisions between buses and pedestrians in the county.