Local News

Chapel Hill Bus driver charged in fatal wreck

Posted November 4, 2008 11:58 a.m. EST
Updated November 4, 2008 7:24 p.m. EST

— A Chapel Hill Transit driver has been charged in connection with the death of a pedestrian struck last Tuesday by a bus.

James Willie Orr, 65, was charged with misdemeanor death by vehicle in the Oct. 28 death of Valerie Hughes, 33, of 1148 Strader Drive in Burlington.

Hughes was struck around 4 p.m. Oct. 27 at the intersection of South Columbia Street and Mason Farm Road and died the next day at UNC Hospitals, where she worked in radiology ambulatory care.

Orr was immediately placed on administrative leave without pay, and following an internal investigation, was fired Monday.

According to police records, the Chapel Hill Police Department has investigated 10 wrecks since 2001 – not including last week's – in which Orr was involved. He was at fault in most of the wrecks. Nine of them were in a town vehicle.

Town officials could not be reached for comment Tuesday. Steven Spade, director of Chapel Hill Transit, said he could not comment on Orr's driving record because it is a personnel matter.

Hughes' death was the second this year in Chapel Hill in which a pedestrian was struck by a bus.

In May, a UNC exchange student, Lisa Carolyn Moran, of Scotland, was jogging through the south campus when she lost her footing and slid under a bus. The driver was not charged.

"The Town Council has expressed an ongoing concern with pedestrian safety, and this unfortunate accident highlights our need to continue and improve upon that effort," Town Manager Roger Stancil said in a statement Tuesday.