PORTLAND, Ore. – Shawn Bates was holding his wife Renee’s hand as they walked together in a Southeast Portland crosswalk on Tuesday afternoon. Seconds later, police say a school bus hit Renee in the crosswalk.
She died not long after at the hospital.
Shawn said they had just gotten off a TriMet bus and were crossing at the corner of SE 148th Avenue and Division to walk home to their apartment. They made it about one-third of the way into the crosswalk across 148th when Shawn said the bus started moving.
He said the bus originally stopped short of the crosswalk then started rolling forward. Shawn saw the bus driver looking left for oncoming traffic on Division.
Both husband and wife started yelling for the bus to stop, Shawn said. He tried to pull his wife out of the way when the bus clipped his arm.
“I lost grip of her and she fell down. She ended up on her back and the bus kept going,” he said. “The next thing you know she was driving and had the wheel right up below her breastline and it was, like, on her stomach up here by her lungs.”
Witness David McCoy saw it all unfold and corroborates that story.
“She stepped out in front of the crosswalk, the bus driver was looking the opposite direction, ran over her, immediately ran back over her,” McCoy told KATU.
Shawn spent Wednesday trying to comfort their 10-year-old son and explaining that his mother passed away.
He isn’t angry with the bus driver; rather, Shawn believes she made an honest but deadly mistake.
“Right now she’s aching inside, you know?” Shawn said. “I know she’s got to be dying inside, hurting. I feel sad for her, too.”
So far police investigators or prosecutors have not said if the driver will face any charges. Police said she might only face a traffic citation because there doesn’t appear to be evidence she did anything criminally negligent.
We were at the crash scene on Wednesday and saw how difficult it is to see traffic coming from the left on Division. The bus driver also only had a “yield” sign for her turn.
We also tried to reach the driver at her home on Wednesday but nobody was home.
A spokesman for school bus company First Student said the bus was taking students from West Linn to a summer school program near where the crash happened. There were two students on the bus at the time.
The driver has a clean driving record and has been working for First Student since 1989.
This is the second almost-identical crash at this crosswalk in just a few years. Because of that, Portland Bureau of Transportation engineers said they will see if they can take any measures to make the intersection safer.