Police: Metrobus driver was talking with rider when man hit and killed

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Photo - Metrobus (Examiner file photo)
Metrobus (Examiner file photo)
Local,Transportation,Kytja Weir

A Metrobus driver was busy talking to a passenger when he fatally struck a 35-year-old man sitting on a busy Northwest D.C. street, according to a D.C. police report.

Reginal Johnson, a Metrobus driver for eight years, told police that he was talking to a rider when he hit Fredrick Robinson on 14th Street just north of Columbia Heights on Sept. 27, according to the report.

He told police he did not notice a taxi swerve out of the way of the man sitting in the street. He also said he did not see Robinson.

The D.C. police report said the bus driver has been cited for not paying full attention on the dark rainy night.

Johnson declined to comment to The Washington Examiner.

It was not immediately clear, though, why Robinson was in the street. An autopsy has been completed but a cause of death and toxicology results have not been released. A police spokeswoman initially said Robinson was 34 years old, but the police report gave different information.

A woman who identified herself as Robinson's sister when reached by phone said the family did not know what had happened. She declined to comment further.

The crash occurred around 10:50 p.m. on a Thursday night near the intersection of Parkwood Place north of Columbia Heights. It was raining and the roads were wet.

Cesar Caguay said he was inside Juanita's restaurant drinking beers with his cousin when the cousin pointed out a man was in the street. Another person was trying to help move Robinson, he said, but the man wouldn't -- or couldn't -- budge.

"I was shocked," Caguay said. "I said, 'I've got to do something for him.'"

He told an off-duty police officer drinking a soda in the restaurant about the man. Together, he said, they ran out to the street. "It was too late," Caguay said.

A taxi swerved out of the way to avoid the man, then the bus hit him.

Robinson died early the next morning at a local hospital.

Johnson, the bus driver, has been on paid leave since then "due to the traumatic nature of the incident," Metro spokeswoman Caroline Lukas said.

"The conditions that night were dark, wet and rainy. The man was sitting in the middle of the roadway wearing dark clothing," she said. "The incident was witnessed by an off-duty police officer who stated that the accident was unavoidable."

Such deaths are unusual for the agency despite an average of about six Metrobus crashes a day. The death was the first time a pedestrian has been killed by a Metrobus since 2009, according to the transit agency. Metro had a spate of such deaths in 2007 that led to various safety reforms.

kweir@washingtonexaminer.com

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