Santa Barbara Police officers are investigating the cause of an accident in which a city bus jumped the curb near the Transit Center and killed an unidentified person. | Credit: Paul Wellman

[Update, October 10]: Police have identified the victim as Eve Debra Johnson, age 67. Spokesperson Anthony Wagner said the bus driver has been interviewed by police and is cooperating with the investigation. The Hispanic male victim described by eyewitness Rachel Frantzich is one of the surviving injured victims, Wagner said.

[Update, 3:40 p.m.]: Rachel Frantzich, who manages Riley’s Flowers, located directly across the street from the accident scene, was arranging flowers and looking out the window when she witnessed the entire incident.

Frantzich said the MTD bus had just turned the corner from Chapala to Figueroa and appeared to be slowing down when it suddenly sped up and jumped the curb and onto the sidewalk. There were no other cars around it, she said. “It looked like something happened to the driver, or he lost control,” she said. The bus struck a person sitting on a bench directly in its path then crashed into the parked Civic. Frantzich said she heard a scream and ran over to help.

One of the victim’s legs had been severed, and he was lying on his back partially under the bus, Frantzich said. She described him as an “older Hispanic man.” He appeared to be in shock. He raised one of his hands, and it was held by another witness. She rushed back to her store to call 9-1-1.

Frantzich expressed concern that MTD had relocated and clustered its pickup locations along the Chapala/Figueroa corner and along the south side of Figueroa while its new terminal is under construction. “It’s ridiculous for them to have it all right here,” she said. “It’s dangerous.”

[Original Report, 3:24 p.m.]: A pedestrian was struck and killed by a Santa Barbara city bus near the downtown Chapala Street terminal around 2:15 p.m. on Wednesday, Santa Barbara Police spokesperson Anthony Wagner confirmed. Wagner said one bus passenger and two pedestrians also sustained severe injuries from the collision, but he could not yet confirm the victims’ identities or the extent of the non-fatal injuries. 

“We are in the first phase of a very long afternoon of investigations to find out exactly what happened,” Wagner said.

The Metropolitan Transit District (MTD) bus was traveling eastbound on Figueroa Street when it drove over the curb, across the sidewalk, and partially into the city parking lot at the Figueroa and Chapala Street intersection, striking and killing the pedestrian while the person was sitting on a bench. It crashed into a black Honda Civic parked in the lot, leaving the victim lying in the parking lot between the bus and crushed Civic.

Some of the injured victims have been shuttled off to hospitals via ambulance, but others remain inside the bus, where they are being treated. 

The driver is currently being questioned at the police station, Wagner said. Police haven’t determined the cause of the crash, the speed of the bus, or revealed the identity of the driver.

Figueroa Street between Chapala and State, and the Chapala block between Figueroa and Carrillo, are closed. The Metropolitan Transit District is directing buses to the next stop, one block further north up Chapala. 

This story will be updated as new information becomes available. 

Correction: Rachel Frantzich is the manager of Riley’s Flowers, not the owner.


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