In the wake of a fatal accident involving a city bus at a Bensonhurst intersection, a Southwest Brooklyn lawmaker is calling for a full investigation of all of the circumstances that could have led to the tragedy.
Assemblymember William Colton, a Democrat who represents Coney Island, Gravesend and parts of Bensonhurst, called the accident that killed pedestrian Yu Qing Chen was “extremely sad and outrageous.”
Chen, an 81-year-old Bensonhurst resident, was crossing the intersection of Bay Parkway and Stillwell Avenue at on the night of Sept. 5 when she was struck by a B6 bus making a right turn from Bay Parkway onto Stillwell Avenue, police said.
Chen was rushed to Maimonides Medical Center with head trauma and was pronounced dead a short time later.
The bus driver, identified as Audley Smith, 62, remained at the scene and was later charged with failure to yield to a pedestrian and failure to exercise due care.
But Colton said charging the driver isn’t enough and that more investigation is needed. Colton spoke out a few days after the accident.
He called on the Police Department and the Metropolitan Transportation (MTA) to investigate to determine if there was any malfunction of the bus that might have contributed to the crash.
“Although the bus driver has been arrested, it is not enough to investigate the action of the driver. All other factors causing this tragic accident must be included,” Colton said in a statement. “Did this bus have modified mirrors allowing the driver to see blind spots? Was the bus equipped with the audible warning alerting pedestrians to the presence of a turning bus? Was this bus put out of service and why was it off its normal route, since city buses do not make right turns from Stillwell Avenue onto Bay Parkway?”
There have been several prior incidents around the city in which pedestrians have been struck by buses only to have the courts dismiss all charges against bus drivers due to design defects in the buses, according to Colton.
“I believe that this senior citizen’s family and the entire community deserve answers to ensure that such tragic accidents stop occurring and do not keep costing families and the community more lost lives,” Colton stated.
An MTA spokesperson told this newspaper that the transportation agency always conducts a full investigation following any fatal bus accident and the probe routinely includes a careful inspection of the bus to determine if any flaws exist.
Meanwhile, Tony Utano, president of Transport Workers Union Local 100, told Eyewitness News in a statement that the union is doing its own probe of the accident.
“This is a terrible, tragic accident and our hearts go out to this poor woman and her family. Our operator is a veteran with an excellent record, and he is absolutely devastated. He was taken to the hospital for trauma. These are complex investigations with many factors to consider, including bus operator blind spots, and we are conducting our own investigation,” Utano told Eyewitness News.