RTD's rash of crashes: Driver charged in Marvin Webb's death, another wreck yesterday

Last week, we told you about the death of Marvin Webb, who was killed after he was struck by an RTD bus in Lafayette while he was riding his bicycle.

Today, RTD spokesman Scott Reed confirms that the bus's driver, Paul John Johnson, has been charged with careless driving resulting in death by the Lafayette Police Department. Similar accusations were previously leveled against Tideneykiyalesh Hawariyat, who was piloting an RTD bus when it smashed into a vehicle containing Carla Miranda and Dustin Peletier, both 29. They died as a result of their injuries.

Fortunately, there were no fatalities in yet another crash -- one yesterday on Sheridan Boulevard that involved a bus and a pickup truck: The driver of the pickup, not the bus driver, received a citation. But Reed's hardly in the mood for celebration.

The accidents in which RTD employees or contract workers have been charged "are very tragic and it's very sad for the community, and obviously for the families that have been involved," Reed says. "Our thoughts and our prayers go out to them. We've been an important part of the community for four decades. This is something we take very seriously, and we're taking steps to address it."


"We are instituting 100 percent refresher safety training for our bus operators, which includes our private contractors, to reinforce their previous safety training," he says. "There's also increased contact between our supervisors and managers and our bus operators, to reemphasize safety. We're analyzing previous accidents to determine if there are any trends we can address through the safety training. And we also have increased our street-service monitoring to see if there are any unsafe procedures that we can detect and correct.

"The preliminary look at these accidents shows that they've all been very different," he continues. "We haven't found a common thread. But we're very concerned. This is not consistent with the good safety record we've had over the years, and we're doing a very thorough review of everything we do operationally to address these safety concerns."

Reed stresses that prior to the recent batch of problems, "nothing had changed in our safety training in terms of reducing the amount of safety training or supervision or anything like that, which is why these accidents are so puzzling -- and very troubling."

The current safety review was already in place when the charges against Johnson came down. But Reed leaves open the possibility for more steps of this sort.

"Once we complete the initial round of training, which is classroom training as a refresher course for the bus operators, we'll see if we will add additional training measures, which could include behind-the-wheel training. We do that periodically, but we'll determine if we want to do that for all of our bus operators as a refresher."

A decision about that should be made once the classroom training is done -- two or three weeks from now. Until then, RTD will once again try to get through the day without another publicity nightmare materializing.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts