A SamTrans bus driver who struck and killed a woman in a Palo Alto crosswalk last December will face a misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter charge, Rob Baker, Santa Clara County supervising deputy district attorney, said Monday (April 18).
Morena Guadalupe Artiga, 49, was driving a SamTrans bus when she struck and killed Sheena Barker Krishnan in a crosswalk on Webster Street and University Avenue on Dec. 30, 2010.
Witnesses and police described a harrowing scene of the 10:26 a.m. collision. Krishnan was crossing from the southeast corner of Webster and was traveling northbound across University, witnesses said. She was on her way to Lytton Gardens to visit a senior patient, according to the report.
The bus was traveling southbound on Webster and made a left turn east onto University. It was traveling at about 7 mph, according to the report.
The sun shone in Artiga's "two o'clock" position and created shadows on certain portions of the roadway and reflections on the bus windshield, police said the bus video recorder showed. Artiga was wearing sunglasses and her driver's side visor was extended down.
Krishnan was nearly halfway across the crosswalk -- about 18 feet from the southeast curb -- when her red Whole Foods tote bag appeared in front of the bus windshield, a second before impact. She was struck by the left, front side of the bus and was sucked under. Krishnan was dragged about 40 feet and was wedged under the vehicle's rear mudguards between the wheels, according to the police report.
Artiga could not stop crying, witnesses said.
"I could hear crying coming from the bus. I ran onto the bus and saw the bus driver, who was inconsolable. She was hysterical. She was crying. She kept saying to me, 'I didn't see her, I didn't see her.'
"I kept saying, 'It's going to be ok,' but she said, 'No, it's not, it's not,'" witness Jenny Macht told police.
Artiga told police that she did not see Krishnan.
"She simply said that she did not see Krishnan in the crosswalk and she never blamed the collision on any outside influences or roadway conditions," investigators noted.
She was not using her cell phone and was not distracted or speaking with passengers, the video showed, and she also tested negative for drugs and alcohol, according to police.
Distraught, she was taken to Kaiser Hospital in Redwood City for treatment of severe anxiety and high blood pressure, police said.
Palo Alto police officers Wayne Benitez and Eric Bulatao, who were first at the scene, determined that Krishnan's injuries were largely internal. They tried to move her out from under the bus to perform cardiac resuscitation, according to the officers' reports. Paramedics were unable to revive her and she was declared dead at the scene.
Investigators recommended in their March 31, 2011, report that a charge be filed against Artiga.
"In the final analysis, Artiga should have clearly seen Barker (Krishnan) standing on the corner and/or walking north within the marked crosswalk. Consequently, Artiga should have yielded the right-of-way to Barker (a pedestrian) and Artiga should not have proceeded ahead until Barker had passed and until it was safe to do so," the report said.
Supervising Deputy District Attorney Baker said a warrant has been issued for Artiga's arrest. She is expected to turn herself in within a few days, he said. If convicted, Artiga could serve up to a year in jail.
Because of an ongoing internal investigation at SamTrans, spokeswoman Tasha Bartholomew said the agency could not comment on the charges.