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Witness recounts fatal bus accident in Chapel Hill

Posted May 15, 2008
Updated May 16, 2008

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— A witness said “it was a helpless feeling” watching as a Chapel Hill Transit bus hit a jogger who died shortly after the Thursday morning incident.

The 20-year-old woman was trying to cross a street, on the south campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, just before 11 a.m. when the bus struck her.

David McInnes said the accident he witnessed at the intersection of South Columbia Street and Manning Drive is a scene that keeps replaying in his head.

“I was walking down the sidewalk in that direction, the same direction as the bus," he said. “I heard someone yelling, maybe a pedestrian, and I heard a sickening thumping sound. I looked up and saw the back wheels going over her body.”

The jogger died at the nearby UNC Hospitals. Her name was being withheld Thursday evening until her family was notified.

McInnes and others who work on the UNC campus, and who often walk along Manning Drive, say the road is known for its close calls between pedestrians and drivers.

“Half the time, they (drivers) don't stop. Once you get in the crosswalk, they just keep going,” Cindy Spivey said.

The bus driver was placed on paid leave, pending the outcome of an investigation by campus and Chapel Hill police, said Steve Spade, director of Chapel Hill Transit.

No charges were filed.

37 Comments

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  • ratherbnnc May 16, 2008

    It seems alot of you are doing the usual speculating and speculating when you actually have no idea what happened at that intersection. For once why dont you leave the investigating up to the investigators. Your assumptions are nothing more than being nosey and want to add your 2 cents into something that you know absolutely jack about!

  • ms b May 16, 2008

    There's no winning on this issue with the students. They want all vehicles to stop for them even if they (as pedestrians) have a red light, but yet they don't want the bus to be late at their stop

  • 0 Tolerance aka Ms.Turner May 16, 2008

    In all fairness to this driver who I know feels HORRIBLE about this, there is no way she could have seen this girl sitting high up in the bus when the jogger just darts out in traffic not thinking at all.
    I can honestly say the main reason I HATE driving in Chapel Hill is because of Pedestrians.

  • KevinUNC97 May 16, 2008

    I cross this street every morning and it is always a close call! You have crosswalks, but they place these ridiculously large traffic signs near the intersections, so you can not see if cars are coming or not until you are in the street; and conversely cars can't see you. I knew that it would end up in tragedy, and I hope they do something pro-active in order to prevent this tragedy from happening again!

  • merrywidow May 16, 2008

    What a shame, my condolences to her family. My daughter is a rising senior at the Univ. Of Hawaii@Manoa, and in Honolulu they are VERY strict about enforcing traffic crossings. Too many elderly pedestrians were being hit so they started aggressively enforcing the rules.

    One does NOT walk the crosswalk unless they have the white cross signal, or they will get a ticket (And don't even think of starting to cross when the the countdown has turned red. You'll get a ticket). Drivers do NOT start to turn unless the pedestrian is out of the cross lane, or they get a ticket. I follow those rules here. Even my sweetie, who works up in DC and used to jaywalk and cross whenever, has gotten used to following those rules, after my daughter and I visited him up there and she kept getting on him about his crossing habits.

  • redwarrior May 16, 2008

    For the last time, pedestrians DO NOT always have the right of way.

    Quit believing this.

  • OriginalBlueDevil May 16, 2008

    I have worked in CH for years. There are crosswalks, however, the area is very conjested. Basically you have constant contruction the various UNC hospitals on one side of the street and contruction on the other side of the street with new parking decks. The stretch of road is reasonably short, but it doesn't take much for an accident like this to occur. My sincere thoughts and prayers go out to all family, loved ones, and aquaintences of this young lady.

  • 4 kicks May 16, 2008

    I live and work in Chapel Hill. I cannot tell you how many times someone has stepped right out in front of my car. It is a huge problem especially near Manning Drive.

  • carolinakhaki May 16, 2008

    I'm not familiar with this particular stretch of road - are there no crosswalks or pedestrian "walk/no walk" signs, or what? From the comments here it seems like a bad combo of inattentive peds and bad drivers.

  • lglduck May 16, 2008

    Totally agree with caryhomeimprovement. I work in Chapel Hill, very near the where this happened and could hear the sirens from my office. I travel this intersection 2-3 times a day too. Many times I've seen these buses have a blatent disregard for pedestrians (and red traffic lights and other cars in general) - BUT I also see pedestrians who have a blatent disregard for oncoming traffic. Each assumes the other is going to stop and I have to wonder if that's what happened here.

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