3 Dead, Dozens Injured, and Lawsuits Filed in Two Years - Is RIPTA Safe?
Wednesday, May 11, 2016
SLIDES: RECENT RIPTA ACCIDENTS AND DEATHS BELOW
The suit field against RIPTA, and the driver of the bus, Eric Seaberg, alleges that both were negligent in the death of the nine-year-old girl last year.
“At all times relevant hereto Seaberg owed a duty to Ani Emdjian to operate the bus with due care. Nevertheless, Seaberg breached his duty owed to Ani Emdjian by operating the bus in a negligent manner and striking her. As a direct and proximate result of Seaberg's negligence as aforesaid, Ani Emdjian died,” says the suit filed by Max Wistow of Wistow, Barylick, Sheehan & Loveley, PC.
Wistow is the State of Rhode Island's attorney in lawsuits to recover funds relating to the 38 Studios bankruptcy.
The suit goes on to allege, “At all times pertinent hereto, Defendant RIPTA had a duty to exercise reasonable care in hiring, training and supervising its employees, including but not limited to Seaberg, in the safe operation of a bus.”
RIPTA Defends Record
Repeated efforts by GoLocalProv to receive accident reports and data were blocked in 2015 by RIPTA citing legal issues and denying access to public records.
“We can't provide details on every accident -- that answer came from our legal department and is something I can't speak to,” said RIPTA spokesperson Barbara Polichetti on Tuesday.
Besides the death of Emdjian, Bobbie Moore was killed by a bus on Broad Street in May 2015 and U.S. Marshall Frank McKnight was killed by a bus in June 2014.
On Monday, a RIPTA bus crashed into the bus shelter on the South Main Street at the entry of the East Side Thayer Street bus tunnel.
Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian and Chairman of RIPTA told GoLocal, “Monday's accident is under investigation. There was nothing to indicate that there was anything wrong with the operation of the bus, and it doesn't appear that the driver had a medical episode. The driver is on administrative leave pending the investigation.”
“I think if you were to look at benchmarking transit agencies that are our size -- there's on average one [accident] every 25,000 miles. That could be as small as a cracked mirror, or a fender bender. At RIPTA, we drive 32,000 miles a day. We transport 70,000 passengers a day," said Avedisian.
He did speak to one of the deaths, “I think more can be done in terms of safety, including outreach and videos for passengers. One accident that is on the list was a woman chasing a bus. Don't try and get the bus to stop. It's a heavy piece of equipment to stop on a dime. That's when things can go wrong.”
Related Slideshow: RIPTA Crashes - 2016
May 9, 2016
A RIPTA bus crashed into the western entrance of the East Side Trolley Tunnel by College Hill on Monday afternoon.
Witnesses say it looked serious and nine were injured.
"When I got there, it had already happened, but it looked pretty bad," said local artist Philippe Lejeune, who was on the scene. "There were ambulances taking people away."
March 1, 2016
Four passengers and a bus driver were injured when a RIPTA bus crashed into a street lamp at Francis and Gaspee Streets by Providence Place Mall.
The crash was reported at about 2:11 p.m. at Francis and Gaspee streets.
The bus knocked down a street lamp. The RIPTA driver was cited for the accident.
May 29, 2014
A RIPTA transit bus struck Frank McKnight while he was walking in a crosswalk from the Federal District Court building to the John O. Pastore building.
STATEMENT FROM UNITED STATES MARSHAL JAMIE A. HAINSWORTH:
I am deeply saddened to announce the passing of federal Court Security Officer Frank McKnight, 69, of North Kingstown. Officer McKnight passed away at Rhode Island Hospital at 6:30 this evening. Officer McKnight’s family was by his side.
A retired North Kingstown police officer with 25 years of service, having retired at the rank of Lieutenant, Officer McKnight was a court security officer for the past 13 years, most recently assigned to the U.S. District Court building.
Officer McKnight was a dedicated, career law enforcement officer and public servant who came to work daily eager and ready to serve, brandishing a positive attitude and always with a smile. His distinguished career will be heralded. His absence will be greatly felt by all that he worked with and served.
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