Officials are looking at whether a Golden Empire Transit (GET) bus driver in Bakersfield was driving recklessly when she struck and killed 62-year-old James Tate who was walking in a marked crosswalk. According to this news report in the Bakersfield Californian, the accident occurred on December 26, 2008. The GET bus was traveling north on H Street when it turned left on to 24th Street and struck Tate, who was walking north in the crosswalk.
The bus driver was identified as 50-year-old Priscilla Martinez.
Bakersfield police officials who are investigating this tragic pedestrian accident are looking at whether Martinez should have seen and stopped for the pedestrian or whether Tate carelessly walked into the path of the moving bus. Traffic investigators are apparently reviewing videotapes of the fatal Bakersfield pedestrian accident as part of the investigation.
My heart goes out to the family of James Tate for their sudden and tragic loss. I offer my deepest condolences to them. Please keep this family in your prayers.
I would be interested to find out what investigators see in this video. I’d bet the bus driver, Martinez, did not see Tate crossing the street. However, if Tate was walking in a marked crosswalk or at an intersection, the bus driver should have stopped and yielded right-of-way to Tate.
California Vehicle Code Section 21950 (a) states: “The driver of a vehicle shall yield right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection.” Section 21950 (c) states: “The driver of a vehicle approaching a pedestrian within any marked or unmarked crosswalk shall exercise all due care and shall reduce the speed of the vehicle take any other action relating to the operation of the vehicle as necessary to safeguard the safety of the pedestrian.”
The family of James Tate would be well-advised to retain the services of an experienced California personal injury lawyer, who will remain on their side and protect their legal rights during and after the accident investigation. If the bus driver is found to have been driving recklessly, then both she and her employer, Golden Empire Transit, could be held liable for the death of James Tate. The deceased victim’s family in this case may be able to file a wrongful death claim against the transit company and the bus driver. A wrongful death claim seeks compensation for the family of the deceased victim to cover medical or funeral expenses as well as lost wages.