This is nightmare material. While supposedly trying to hail a cab Wednesday, 49 year old Scott Whitsett was sandwiched between two Muni busses. When the vehicles separated, Whitsett fell to the ground, where he was run over and killed by one of the buses. This is the newest in a string of Muni accidents, which have been coupled with Muni fare increases and service cutbacks.
Last summer, responding to two separate accidents that sent more than 50 people to the hospital, the City Operations and Neighborhood Services Committee held a hearing to examine Muni’s safety standards. “We’re very upset with these accidents…and we certainly want to improve,” said Muni’s safety officer James Dougherty at the hearing. “We’re striving for zero accidents.”
But in the past few months alone, we’ve seen a new batch of Muni accidents apparently caused by distracted drivers and faulty equipment. Early on March 24, a 10-Townsend bus collided with two parked cars. Video released later showed that the driver’s head was down at the time of the crash. And earlier this month, an F light rail train collided with a 10-townsend bus on Market and 2nd St. in downtown San Francisco. A police spokesman said that “preliminary inspection found that a mechanical failure of the brake system may be at fault.”
Though still under investigation, Wednesday’s accident doesn’t appear to be the fault of Muni drivers. A witness who was standing across the street when Whitsett was killed, said the second bus “could not have stopped.” But the incident serves as a needed reminder that even in a pedestrian-friendly city like San Francisco, walkers, bikers, and drivers alike should take extra precautions while navigating busy intersections and crowded streets.
UPDATE: The accident described above was the first of two Muni fatalities this week. On Thursday, a Muni train struck and killed a man at Castro Station. Both accidents are under investigation.
Photo by David Waggoner, via the Fog City Journal