MUNI 44 O’Shaughnessy Hybrid Bus #8456 vs. Cyclist Derek Allen – Fatal – 6th Ave. Bet. Geary, Clement – 10/7/2010

[UPDATE: Joe Eskenazi has just spoken with the Medical Examiner’s Office. The cyclist has been ID’ed: Derek Allen, 22. The driver was Tommie Barnett, who started with MUNI in 2008.]

Andrea Koskey has the details of the fatal collision between a cyclist on a white road-style bike and northbound 44 O’Shaughnessy #8456 just before 4:59 PM on October 7, 2010.

From the Inner Richmond Smart and Final parking lot:

Click to expand

A tow truck had to be called to lift up the front of the hybrid bus so the coroner could remove the cyclist’s body. This process can take hours. Investigators appeared to be focusing upon the front right corner of the bus:

A road bike with a white frame and white handlebar tape. The rear wheel was taco’ed, suggesting it came into contact with the bus first:

The SFPD held up white plastic sheets on both sides of the bus so that the gathered crowd couldn’t see the body as easily:

Investigators seemed interested in an area south of where 8456 was parked. It’s possible the cyclist was dragged something like 50 feet. This is just south of 326 6th Avenue:

Looking northward from Geary at #8456  and the Other Bus (#8420?), another #44 on the right. Not sure how it might have been involved:

(People working on a ghost bike might want to coordinate with the managers of the nearby Smart and Final store to see if space could be made on their land – DPW removes ghost bikes placed on public property fairly quickly these days it seems….)

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7 Responses to “MUNI 44 O’Shaughnessy Hybrid Bus #8456 vs. Cyclist Derek Allen – Fatal – 6th Ave. Bet. Geary, Clement – 10/7/2010”

  1. […] Bicyclist Killed in Collision with Muni Photo by SF Citizen […]

  2. DarkKnight says:

    I was on scene ten minutes after the incident occurred, so I did not see accident happen.

    SFPD had already sealed off 6th Av from Geary and Clement. There was at least one unmarked SFPD vehicle already stopped in the road within the one block perimeter, along with other officially marked response city vehicles.

    I am astonished that so few people on site even noticed the second #44 MUNI bus, which I *believe* was #8420. 8420 was northbound, stopped crooked (pointing slightly rightward), but entirely within the northbound lane of 6th Av. 8420 was stopped along side the Smart&Final driveways on 6th Av. When I arrived, 8420 had no passengers on it and no operator attending to it. 8420’s hazard lights were not lit. It was all dark, empty and looked as if it had been abandoned in the roadway. The unmarked SFPD sedan was right behind 8420.

    8456 was stopped some distance ahead of 8420 and was occupying more than 50% of the southbound lane of 6th Av. It was pointed almost perfectly straight down the road (in contrast with the slight crookedness of 8420). 8456’s wheels were also pointed straight ahead, giving no indication of any evasive swerving. 8456 was well north of Smart&Final and still well south of Clement & 6th Av. It is impossible for this to be called an intersection-related collision/fatality. This was a mid-block incident. No stop signs or traffic signals were involved.

    The northbound 44 line is supposed to run in 10 minute intervals at that time of day. I find it impossible to believe that SFPD would allow a second bus to enter the sealed perimeter after the collision occurred. So, I have to conclude that 8420 was present before SFPD sealed off the street.

    My surmise from this is that 8420 was a northbound 44 run *ahead* of 8456 and that, for some as yet undisclosed reason, 8420 was forced to stop in the road, mid-block, along side Smart&Final.

    As of 5:15p, when I spoke with a 311 operator, MUNI still had not notified anyone at 311 of any problem with the 44 line and 311 had no information about any 311 reroute, even though 6th Av was completely closed off at Geary and Clement. 311 had to put me on hold in order for someone at 311 to get permission to contact MUNI Central Control. Any MUNI 44 rerouting did not take place until after the accident.

    If 8420 was taken out of service due to mechanical failure, why weren’t its hazard lights on and where was that operator? When was Central Control notified that 8420 was stopped in the roadway on 6th Av?

    Assuming that 8456 was the run following 8420, why didn’t Central Control order 8456 to reroute to 7th Av, rather than allowing 8456 to come up behind a stalled 8420?

    Assuming that 8456 was not ordered to reroute to 7th Av, how did the operator of 8456 determine that it was safe to pass 8420 by occupying, totally or in any part, the southbound lane of 6th Av?

    A stalled MUNI bus creates a huge visual impediment for anyone coming up on it from behind, even another MUNI bus. Did the operator of 8420 signal to the operator of 8456 that it was all clear to pass?

    Did the operator of 8456 drop well below 25MPH when deciding to pass 8420, in order to be able to stop more quickly, due to the possibilty of 1) traffic turning southbound from Clement and/or 2) anything/anyone ahead of 8420 that could not be seen in the northbound lane from behind 8420?

    Assuming that it was even safe to “swerve” in order to try to avoid a collision, wasn’t the operator of 8456 trained to swerve in the direction of the tail-end of any allegedly diagonally darting cyclist? That would have meant swerving right, given a northbound cyclist darting left. As it is, 8456’s wheels were steered straight ahead, and the bus itself was pointed almost perfectly perpendicular to Clement; which makes it hard for me to believe that any swerve was in progress.

    It took MUNI hours to get a tow truck on scene to lift 8456 off of the deceased, which makes me think it would have taken even longer for MUNI to have dealt with any stalled 8420 in the roadway had no accident/fatality occurred at all.

    This also makes me wonder how long it would have taken Central Control to reroute the 44 line around any stalled 8420 had no accident/fatality occurred, forcing other northbound 44 operators to have to pass a stalled bus on two-lane, two-way 6th Av.

    If SFPD hadn’t sealed off the street, who knows if MTA would have ever sent any traffic control officers to the scene to deal with the attractve nuisance of a bus stalled in the roadway, during the hours long wait for a tow truck.

    None of this means that it is automatically safe for any cyclist to enter into the flow of traffic mid-block, whether or not from between parked vehicles mid-block — even though exactly that happens more often than not in The City. It is only alleged that the cyclist was northbound on the sidewalk of 6th Av (not mentioning whether on the west or east side) and that he darted diagonally across the northbound lane of 6th Av.

    Any cyclist would have had difficulty determining that any vehicle would be coming up from behind a stopped/stalled 8420. With no hazard lights on, it would be easy to assume that 8420 was stopped.

    San Francisco drivers routinely, and thoughlessly, cross over yellow lines, double lines, and into lanes of oncoming traffic in order to pass anything in their way, whether it is safe to do so or not — no texting- while-driving required.

    A car, light truck or SUV, passing a stalled 8420 might have been nimble enough to slow or stop soon enough to have avoided a collision from an ill-advised blind pass maneuver in this situation — but not a bus, certainly not a bus passing at more than 10-15MPH, for how ever many yards it would have taken to pass and lane change back.

    And, while every operator must be 100% responsible for every decision and act made behind the steering wheel of her/his vehicle, I really question Central Control’s role in not having rerouted the 44 line sooner and MUNI’s overall failure to have working contingency plans, in the real world, for maintaining public safety.

    I see too many unattendended, lights out, MUNI vechicles on late night runs of the 44, and other routes. Some are more or less safely curb parked, but a few have been left in the roadway, forcing similar, night time, passing maneuvers on even narrower two-lane, two-way streets.

    No matter what MUNI says, safety is NOT Job #1.

    I don’t think anyone knows what Job #1 is at MUNI.

    They say that when everything is a priority, then nothing is a priority.

    Well, guess what, that’s the same thing as having no priority to begin with.

  3. sfcitizen says:

    The photo I have shows 20 straight and 56 crooked, but that was sometime after 7:00 PM…

  4. DarkKnight says:

    I find no fault with the photos.

    8456 is jacked and, possibly, about to be towed away in the night shot. In daylight, on scene, and in other on scene daylight photos elsewhere, 8456 was point dead ahead toward Clement on 6th Av.

    8420 may have moved before the night shot, too.

    In the night shot, 8420 has opertating lights and, possibly, hazard flashers, lit.

    In daylight, on scene, 8420 was all dark — no operating and/or hazard lights lit. Almost no daylight photography of 8420 from on scene published. Many people don’t even remember seeing 8420 on scene, at all. 8420 wasn’t inivisible and it wasn’t directly behind 8456. In dayliight, on scene, 8420 was stopped, entirely in the northbound lane of 6th Av. 8420 was also stopped crooked, with a 10-15 degree rightward heading from dead straight ahead. In my view, 8420 was closer to the Smart&Final lot, than 8456 @5:10p, practically astride the lot (which was to the west of 8420). 8420 may have been moved more than once. Not how I would have handled that, if it was. The street was already sealed off, but, maybe, someone had to use a driveway to get to a parked car.
    I saw no SFPD taking any pictures, on scene, just private citizens.

    MUNI is as transparent as obisdian when it comes to disclosing the facts and details of and *material changes* to accident scenes. The public never gets anything remotely close to full disclosure about MUNI accidents.

    That’s why tough questions and scenarios have to be raised now, before all that can be known is forgotten.

    Otherwise the spin doctors will redact, if not mislead, a public that should have a right to really know.

    Operators may or may not have screwed up here. (I think at least one did, and badly.)

    But the eggheads at MTA/MUNI have been screwing up, by not making Safety Job #1 in any way other than lip service, for >15-20 years.

    This 8456 accident might have been avoided, even given a potential vehicle breakdown (8420), in many different ways, that could have saved a life, if Safety were Job #1.

    But, no matter how expensive MUNI gets, life is cheap in The City.

  5. Anne says:

    Initial SF Gate reports posted Thursday evening have a different driver name from the one cited above, they indicated Rose, Paul(?).

  6. sfcitizen says:

    Think that name refers to the newish SFMTA spokesperson…