D.C. Metrobus Driver Pleads Guilty to Negligent Homicide in Wrongful Deaths of Two Pedestrians on Valentine’s Day

Victor Z. Kolako, the former metrobus driver who killed two female pedestrians on Valentine’s Day in a deadly motor vehicle accident, pled guilty to two counts of negligent homicide last Friday. As part of his plea agreement, prosecutors will pursue a prison sentence of no more than three years for Kolako.

Kolako, a Metro employee until he was fired after the fatal pedestrian accident, had been driving his Metrobus on Seventh Street NW on Valentine’s Day when he turned left onto Pennsylvania Avenue. D.C. police say that Kolako did not yield to oncoming traffic on Seventh Avenue and did not see the two pedestrians that were crossing the street on a “walk” signal in a crosswalk.

The pedestrians, Sally Dean McGhee, 54, and Martha Stringer Schoenberg, 59, were co-workers at the Federal Trade Commission. They were also friends and lived in the same neighborhood in Alexandria. The two women were leaving work and were about to take the metro home.

Police say that the two victims were dragged beneath the bus. Schoenberg’s husband has filed a 50 million wrongful death lawsuit against Metro.

Since 2005, there have been eight traffic accidents involving pedestrians and Metrobuses at the intersection of Pennsylvania and Seventh. It is considered one of the most dangerous intersections in D.C.

According to Metro, during the fiscal year ending on June 30, 2007, 32 pedestrians were hit by Metrobuses. 5 people were killed in these traffic accidents. The most recent pedestrian-Metrobus collision took place on February 14 and involved a 21-year-old nursing student.

Metro says that Metrobus drivers are required to take part in a safety training program of 1-2 days each year.

The number of Metrobus accidents involving pedestrians is a growing concern. Last February, Metrobus General Manager John B. Catoe Jr. announced new measures to improve Metrobus safety and public confidence.

Catoe vowed to monitor Metrobus drivers and their driving records. He also said he wanted to increase the amount of street supervisors that manage driver conduct.

Just one day after Catoe’s announcement, however, Metrobus drivers were seen driving through red lights, talking on cell phones, blocking intersections, and going over the speed limit.

443,000 passengers ride on D.C.’s Metrobus system each day.

Metrobus Driver Pleads Guilty, Washington Post, September 8, 2007
Metro to Require Safety Training for Bus Drivers, Wtopnews.com, February 15, 2007
Metro Chief Vows Better Bus Safety, Washington Post, February 25, 2007

Related Web Resources:

Husband Sues in Fatal Accident, Washington Post, March 20, 2007

Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority

If someone you love has been killed because of the negligent behavior of a Metrobus driver or anyone else, you should call the personal injury law firm of Lebowitz and Mzhen right away.

Our personal injury attorneys are committed to obtaining the best results possible for our wrongful death and personal injury clients. For your free consultation, contact Lebowitz and Mzhen today.

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