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Metro employee now under review after guilty plea

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Local,DC,Maryland,Virginia,Transportation,Kytja Weir

Metro officials are trying to decide what to do with an employee who admitted last week he was to blame for a deadly 2008 Metrobus crash.

Ronald W. Taylor, 41, of Laurel pleaded guilty to negligent homicide on Friday in D.C. Superior Court and could end up behind bars for three years.

Metro put the former bus driver, who is now a station manager, on unpaid leave while it reviews his case, Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said Sunday.

It's the latest twist in a long saga over Taylor's employment at the transit agency which has already hired, fired, rehired, suspended and reinstated him. Taylor could not be reached for comment.

The case began on Sept. 26, 2008, just six months after Taylor started at Metro.

While driving his Metrobus back to the Friendship Heights bus garage around 8:15 p.m., he crashed into a minivan taxi at the intersection of Virginia Avenue and 19th Street -- just blocks from the White House.

Bartlett Tabor, 55, his wife and their two children, ages 9 and 10 were riding in the minivan taxi to a hotel near Washington Dulles International Airport to catch their flight the next day to their home near Alamo, Calif.

Tabor was killed and the others were injured.

The Tabor family sued Metro for $100 million, and the transit agency settled the case in January 2010 in a confidential agreement.

Taylor was fired in the weeks following the crash because Metro officials said he ran a red light.

But he was rehired in May 2010. He had not been charged with any crimes or citations at the time, and an arbitration panel did not find enough evidence that he ran the red light. The arbitrators awarded him full back pay and ordered Metro to reinstate him.

He then became a station manager. However, he was arrested at the Cheverly rail station in that job last April, after a grand jury said it had enough evidence to charge him with negligent homicide in the accident case.

Police accident reconstruction teams determined that he ran the light at least 17 seconds after it turned red, according to U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen's office. Analysis of the black box aboard the bus found he was speeding 41.5 miles per hour in a 25 mph zone.

Initially after the arrest, Taylor was put on leave without pay, Metro officials said at the time. But at some point -- Metro officials could not immediately give specifics -- he returned to his job. Criminal charges alone are not enough to prevent someone from working, Stessel said, as the agency must presume innocence until a court proves otherwise.

But now Taylor has admitted his guilt and Metro must again decide what to do. Taylor won't be sentenced until July. He could face additional penalties because he was on parole in Maryland for two prior drug cases at the time of the crash, according to the prosecutors' office.

kweir@washingtonexaminer.com

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