TX: Bus Driver Who Hit Student Will Likely Have Ticket Dismissed, Officials Say

May 09--After a review of onboard video from a bus that struck a University of Texas student last week, Capital Metro and Austin police said Tuesday that they have concluded that the bus driver should not have been ticketed for running a red light.

The driver was ticketed Friday afternoon after police initially said he ran a red light on Guadalupe Street and struck freshman Nick Engmann, who ran into the street during a game that students were playing with foam swords.

But Capital Metro spokeswoman Erica McKewen said her company and police agree that the driver did not run the light and will probably get the ticket dismissed at Municipal Court. The bus driver's toxicology reports came back negative Tuesday, she said.

The video shows the bus stopped as it picked up passengers in the 2200 block of Guadalupe Street across the street from the University Co-op's art store. The crosswalk is commonly used by large groups of students walking on and off campus.

The light changed to yellow, and the bus moved forward into the crosswalk, the video shows. After it crossed under the light, the bus struck Engmann as he ran into the street.

Police Sgt. David Daniels said the bus was underneath the signal, which is located just before the crosswalk, as it changed from yellow to red, which means the vehicle was legally in the intersection. Once a vehicle passes the stop line, it has the right of way, Daniels said.

However, McKewen said the driver will face disciplinary action when he returns to work today. She said bus drivers are instructed to slow down when they approach a "stale," or longstanding, green light and to stop when the light is yellow.

"He was still violating company policy," McKewen said, for not slowing down and stopping when the light was about to turn red. "A bus operator should not be coasting through a yellow (light)."

State law says that if a driver sees a yellow light, he or she must stop before entering an intersection if they can do so safely. If they cannot stop safety, they are allowed to proceed cautiously through the intersection.

The bus driver is a 21-year veteran with only one incident on his record, which occurred about 10 years ago, officials said last week.

Engmann suffered minor injuries after being struck by the bus. He was taken to an area hospital and later released. University officials said he was participating in a game called Foam Sword Friday, where students run across streets and joust before final exams.

A video of Engmann being struck by the bus, recorded by someone on the sidewalk, went viral Friday.

Contact Patrick George at 445-3548

Copyright 2012 - Austin American-Statesman, Texas