Current, former MTA drivers have histories of accidents - WSMV Channel 4

Current, former MTA drivers have histories of accidents

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

A Channel 4 I-Team investigation found current and former drivers of Nashville city buses with histories of accidents and were allowed to keep driving.

Some of those drivers then went on to be blamed in serious accidents.

One of those drivers is accused of hitting pedestrian Nancy Farmer on June 25, 2010, when she was in a crosswalk at Fourth Avenue and Charlotte.

The 72-year-old retired nurse's assistant was struck by an MTA bus and died five days later.

A passenger on the bus wrote in the police report that the bus driver, Bruce Hogan, didn't even look in the direction of where Farmer was crossing.

"My aunt is what we wanted our senior citizens to be. She was going through life just fine when she was struck down by someone else's professional negligence,"said Charley Farmer, Nancy Farmer's nephew.

The Channel 4 I-Team found just 14 months prior to the accident, Hogan was involved in another crash in another MTA bus.

In that accident, police said Hogan failed to keep in the proper lane, came over the center line and swiped a car.

In that accident as well, police say Hogan was being inattentive.

"When I found out that this person had been entrusted with this bus, even though they had previous incidents, it was shocking to me," Farmer said.

Another case involved former MTA bus driver Dujuan Thompson.

Thompson is accused of hitting pedestrian Larry Hamilton on Jan. 15, 2007, while Hamilton was in the crosswalk at Third Avenue and Broadway.

Video from inside the bus recorded Hamilton's screams when his femur bone was fractured in the impact.

"It took him a long time to recover from what was a pretty traumatic event in, that is, to have a bus knock you down in a pedestrian walkway and run you over,"said Hamilton's attorney C.J. Gideon.

And the Channel 4 I-Team uncovered just 11 months prior to the accident, Thompson was fired for driving a MTA bus on the shoulder of Interstate 65 and talking on a cell phone.

But Thompson's personnel records show that after he was fired, he was rehired, just 30 days later.

"He should not have been in a bus," Gideon said.

When Hamilton sued, Timothy Sanderson, a MTA director, was interviewed in a deposition and was asked why Thompson was rehired after the incident of driving on the shoulder of the incident.

"A determination was made that Mr. Thompson did have a good safety record prior to these incidents. He did not pose a risk. He was not one that would get into accidents," Sanderson said.

But Hamilton's attorney again pointed out, that just 11 months after Sanderson said that, Thompson hit a pedestrian.

"I was frankly floored by the fact that the drivers had been repeatedly disciplined, over and over again, for pretty significant things," Gideon said.

Neither MTA nor the Davidson Transit Organization would answer the I-Team's questions on camera, but their spokeswoman, Patricia Harris-Morehead, did send us an email.

Harris-Morehead said Bruce Hogan was terminated after Nancy Farmer's death, and that his previous accidents, including the swiping of the car, were considered minor.

Harris-Morehead also stated that Dujuan Thompson was not a good employee and was terminated.

Other case files of drivers, reviewed by the Channel 4 I-Team, indicate problems as well.

Former bus driver Wallace Primm had four accidents or MTA violations on his record, including causing a car to hit a pole and repeatedly running railroad tracks.

But Primm was allowed to keep driving.

Current MTA bus driver Janice Vick hit a pedestrian with her bus, causing the woman to fall.

MTA wrote in Vicks' file that the accident was one she could have prevented.

That file shows two years before hitting the pedestrian, Vick drove up on a sidewalk in a MTA bus and knocked a pole to the ground.

Her file mentioned another MTA accident that was also deemed preventable.

Current MTA bus driver James Bianchi hit a pedestrian with a MTA bus in 2006 and his file shows MTA deemed the accident preventable.

Just a year later, his file states he had another preventable accident, but the details weren't in his file.

In 2009, Bianchi was reprimanded for operating a bus in an unsafe manner.

Harris-Morehead's email to the I-Team also stated, " The Davidson Transit Organization (DTO), the employer of 332 bus operators for the Nashville MTA, has one of the better bus safety records in the nation. Our drivers are well trained and the accidents mentioned are not the norm."

But Nancy Farmer's nephew said he doesn't believe that.

"Sometimes I got the whole feeling this would have been swept under the rug if I had not been so vigilant on following up with these issues," Farmer said.

None of the current MTA drivers agreed to speak with the Channel 4 I-Team, and only Thompson could be reached by phone.

The Channel 4 I-Team will air an interview with Thompson Tuesday night on Channel 4 News at 6:00.

Copyright 2012 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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I-team sidebar - MTA/Davidson Transit Organization

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The Metro Transit Authority and Davidson Transit Organization would not comment on camera for this I-Team report. However, MTA spokeswoman Patricia Harris-Morehead did provide this written statement about More>>

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