The criminal phase of the trial of a Tri-Met driver responsible for what The Oregonian calls “the worst transit tragedy in modern Portland history” has reached a turning point. Earlier this month, Sandi Day was convicted on all six charges she faced stemming from last year’s fatal Portland bus crash.
According to the newspaper, the judge “ordered Day to pay more than $1000 in fines, perform 200 hours of community service and complete a traffic safety course.” She also faces the loss of her commercial driving license and possible additional fines if she does not “comply with her sentence within a year.” As I noted in a post early last summer, the accident has already led to changes in Tri-Met’s operating procedures.
Day drove her bus into five people last April as she executed an illegal left turn. According to The Oregonian, police testified at her trial that she kept driving for 2.5 seconds after hitting five pedestrians in a crosswalk at approximately 13 miles per hour. Two of the pedestrians were dragged beneath the bus and died. Three others were injured.
As the newspaper reports, “a Multnomah County grand jury cleared (Day) of criminal wrongdoing in the crash.” That fact accounts for what some readers might see as a relatively minor sentence (a fine and community service) for an Oregon fatal bus crash resulting in two deaths. Day still faces civil cases, however. The paper notes that one of the crash survivors is suing Day, Tri-Met’s former general manager “and others” for $30 million in damages.
Cases like this are a reminder of why our civil court procedures are so important. When a grand jury fails to hand up significant criminal charges the civil court process allows victims and their families a chance to right the scales and see justice done through Oregon wrongful death suits, Oregon personal injury suits and other legal actions.