Bus driver charged with vehicular manslaughter

SamTrans bus struck and killed a pedestrian in the crosswalk in December 2010

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.

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Like this comment
Posted by very sad
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 18, 2011 at 6:02 pm

This is a very sad story. Obviously, the bus driver was not trying to kill the nurse. On the other hand, a motor vehicle is a huge weapon and needs to be handled as such. If the nurse was half way across the street when she was hit, then the driver had plenty of time to see her. If distractions limited the driver's ability to see the crosswalk, then she really needed to slow down or stop to give herself enough time to survey the intersection before driving through it. A bus is more difficult to drive than a car, but a bus driver is a professional and should have a lot more training and experience than your average car driver.

My condolences to the victim's friends and family.

Like this comment
Posted by Driver
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 18, 2011 at 6:15 pm

I agree this is a very sad story for everyone involved.

The report says the bus was moving at 7 mph. How much slower do you expect the bus to go? When blinded by the sun it can be very hard to see pedestrians.

Always cross the street making sure you are safe rather than making sure you have right of way. It is better to be cautious rather than injured or dead.

Like this comment
Posted by very sad
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 18, 2011 at 7:11 pm

Don't blame the victim! 7mph is many times faster than most pedestrians. Very doubtful that the victim could have outrun the bus, especially since the bus was coming from an odd angle and probably hard to pick up. If the driver really was "blinded by the sun", she should have stopped before crossing a popular crosswalk, then proceeded at walking speed (2mph).

Like this comment
Posted by Billy
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 18, 2011 at 7:32 pm

It's hard to watch this driver charged with manslaughter, based on the newspaper accounts. Losing her commercial license, maybe for life, would be better, unless it turns out that she was reckless in making this turn.

If she isn't found guilt, she should be suspended for maybe six months, and perhaps helped to find some other kind of employment. She doesn't sound like a person who made a habit of endangering others.

Like this comment
Posted by Maya
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 19, 2011 at 6:51 am

Ok so this horrible, horrible accident occurs, accident, and the driver is facing charges and jail time yet the drunk lady from Atherton can cruise around wasted as she pleases showing no remorse and with no ramifications? ????

Like this comment
Posted by daniel
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 19, 2011 at 7:26 am

The Atherton alcoholic keeps driving despite multiple DUI incidents and never showing any remorse for extremely reckless and potentially deadly behavior, and this bus driver who may have been a bit careless but certainly sober, never meant to hurt anybody and who had demonstrated sincere remorse is charged with manslaughter. It's so nice to be able to buy your way out of trouble.

Like this comment
Posted by Driver
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 19, 2011 at 7:54 am

Absolutely no blame to the victim. Just a reminder to us all that we are all responsible for our own safety in traffic. It makes sense to be aware of all that is happening on the roads we use rather than assume anything.

Like this comment
Posted by society
a resident of Southgate
on Apr 19, 2011 at 11:28 am

really, society is so harried and stressed, the criminal justice system is being used for EVERYTHING! not healthy! police being used for every concieveable incident. a sign of disaster!

Like this comment
Posted by Jw
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 19, 2011 at 11:38 am

This is sad. It seems like a true accident. I don't think the bus could have been going much slower than 7mph... It's no ones fault, which is why it's called an accident. The bus driver already has to live with the knowledge she killed someone. It just seems like since the bus cameras showed her doing her job without distractions except shadows, she shouldn't have to go to jail.

Like this comment
Posted by KD
a resident of Stanford
on Apr 19, 2011 at 12:28 pm

I have to agree with so many comments, here. This tragedy was an accident. Jail time serves no one. My deepest condolences to the family of the victim. My prayers are with the driver who is suffering through the accident's aftermath.

Like this comment
Posted by Dan
a resident of Southgate
on Apr 19, 2011 at 12:52 pm

misdemeanor manslaughter?

Like this comment
Posted by 94025
a resident of Menlo Park
on Apr 19, 2011 at 1:35 pm

Just a note here to remind other people who are commenting here that the person who was killed was WALKING across the street, and not in a vehicle!

Like this comment
Posted by Afternoon walker
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 19, 2011 at 2:42 pm


Like this comment
Posted by felony vs misdeanor
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 19, 2011 at 2:59 pm

"misdemeanor manslaughter?"

As I understand it, felony vs misdemeanor is determined by the degree of recklessness. A driver only has to be negligent for a misdemeanor, which running over a pedestrian in a crosswalk would demonstrate. For a felony the driver would have to have shown disregard for others safety. In this case, the slow speed, would indicate the driver was trying to operate the vehicle safely, but failed to do so, by not observing the pedestrian.

Like this comment
Posted by carol
a resident of Menlo Park
on Apr 19, 2011 at 5:01 pm

Tragic & terrible for all concerned. Considering the angle of the sun at that Dec. hour, it is not unreasonable that the driver could have been momentarily blinded.

I wish bus routes were designed so drivers turned away from, not into glare. That would require slightly varying the am & pm routes but would increase safety.

Glare is a major accident factor. It's certainly an additional risk for which we cannot always compensate.

Like this comment
Posted by RWC
a resident of another community
on Apr 19, 2011 at 10:42 pm

I fervently concur with those posting that mercy is called for here. This was an accident in the truest sense of the word. Accidents happen. Even when the outcome is a tragedy, it's still an accident.

For those holding the driver to a standard no less than perfection - of course she could have been driving even more slowly. Of course she could have come to a full stop because of the glare. That's what a perfect person in a perfect situation would have done. As it is, she was driving at a reasonable speed, and a lousy confluence of factors has led to this terribly sad incident.

I too wish she could perform public service rather than sit in a jail. Who does that benefit?

To Ms. Artiga, should she chance to read this: I am so, so terribly sorry. I wish you comfort and healing, and the knowledge that this could have happened to anyone.

Like this comment
Posted by Moi
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 20, 2011 at 4:10 am

Every time I drive, I hope I will not hurt anyone. It is a huge responsibility and a scary prospect. Each one of us has had close calls, to be sure.

Ms. Artiga's life has been changed forever. Every day she will remember those horrific moments. I have no doubt that she is in emotional pain and always will be.

Give her probation. Do not put her on trial. Sadly, it would not bring back the life that was lost.

Better not to ruin another life.

Like this comment
Posted by felony vs misdeanor
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 20, 2011 at 11:39 am

"Give her probation. Do not put her on trial."

A sentence of probation requires a trial.

Like this comment
Posted by mmmmMom
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 20, 2011 at 3:08 pm

I agree that the entire event is extremely tragic. A husband lost his wife; a child, or children, their Mother. She was also someone's daughter, & someone's friend.

Unfortunate as it may be, the driver must be held accountable for her actions. Accident or not, she caused someone's death.

May the Judge be blessed with wisdom in deciding this case.

Like this comment
Posted by John
a resident of Mountain View
on Dec 11, 2012 at 10:17 pm

Hey Mo, I remember you telling me about what happened to your mom. I Just read this article. Im sorry bro. My deepest condolences to you and your family. We havent taked in a while. Feel free to call sometime and catch up.
- john

Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 12, 2012 at 12:42 pm

As much as there is sympathy for the driver, & indeed, it was an accident, I want to know about the VICTIM and HER FAMILY. I don't recall learning much about any of them when this happened. This article is written to elicit as much sympathy for the driver as possible. Ok, fine, but it does so at the expense of the victim.

Yes, the driver didn't mean to do this, yes, she was highly distraught (as anyone w/a conscience would be), yes she had to go to the hospital due to her anxiety, BUT SHE IS ALIVE. She can find another career, walk down the street, celebrate the holidays & wake to another day. She can gradually move past this & get the help needed to do so. Ms. Krishnan cannot. I am so sorry.

Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 12, 2012 at 12:49 pm

Here is information on the victim- the 2nd article is a great profile of her.

Web Link

Web Link

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of JLS Middle School

on Jun 1, 2017 at 4:57 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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