REGINA – A Saskatchewan coroner is calling for a review of the way city buses are maintained and drivers are trained after a woman was hit and killed by a sign that was knocked over by a skidding transit coach.
Maureen Stinnen also wants the Saskatchewan government to legislate safety standards for all municipal buses carrying more the 10 passengers.
Barbara Supynuk, 50, was injured in February and died in March after suffering a skull fracture, multiple facial fractures, broken ribs and a lacerated spleen.
Despite this ruling, City of Regina staff will only call the death an “accident.”
“There are a number of factors that can contribute to that, it could be road or weather conditions as well,” said Brent Sjoberg, deputy city manager.
The coroner’s report says a Regina city bus was travelling downtown when the driver pulled over to a stop. The driver said the bus skidded and he turned the wheel from the curb to avoid driving into the bus stop. But the bus hit the sign post which struck Supynuk, who was standing at the stop.
“The road evidence showed significant unusual skid marks specific to the left rear brake,” Stinnen wrote in the report released Tuesday. “It indicated that the rear left brake was not operational, which would have caused the bus to veer to the right and leave the roadway.”
The report says police noted that same brake failed again when the bus was driven onto a flatbed truck after the crash.
Stinnen learned that other transit drivers had complained about the brakes on that bus and Saskatchewan Government Insurance found all four brake drums were worn. The city said maintenance was completed after the complaints, but no details were provided on the repairs, said Stinnen.
Sjoberg admits the city didn’t meet safety standards, though he says an independent test of the brakes commissioned by the city determined they did not fail.
“We can’t change the events of that day,” he said. “What we can do is look at the go-forward plan.”
The report notes that the accident involved an older bus that did not have anti-lock brakes (ABS). It says the bus driver stepped on the brake and kept his foot on it until the bus stopped.
“In non-ABS equipped vehicles, in order to maintain or restore steering, it is important for the driver to take corrective action by releasing the brake or pumping the brake,” wrote the coroner.
“This is an important consideration when driving this type of vehicle.”
Regina police said in September that while Supynuk’s death was “very tragic,” there was no evidence of criminal wrongdoing.
Police did charge the city’s transit service department with failing to maintain a brake system with mechanical components that are secure, functional or not excessively worn or misaligned.
With files from Global’s Mike McKinnon
© 2013 The Canadian Press