It wasn’t a safe place to wait for a bus. But we already knew that.
The east valley bus stop where a father and his three young children were hit by a truck Friday morning was one of about 1,000 curbside bus shelters that don’t meet new safety standards, which require bus stops to be at least 5 feet from the road.
“It is on the list of stops we want to address,” said Regional Transportation Commission spokeswoman Angela Castro in a statement.
The crash between two pickup trucks happened about 5:30 a.m. at Bonanza Road and Lamb Boulevard. A Ford F-350 truck was heading north on Lamb when it was struck by a Dodge pickup heading west on Bonanza. The driver of the Ford lost control and swerved into the bus shelter, which is on the corner of a shopping complex.
The children — ages 2, 4, and 5 — remained in critical condition Friday afternoon. One of the children was trapped under the “super duty” truck — which wiped out the front half of the shelter — for almost 30 minutes. That child had emergency surgery after being hospitalized.
Sgt. Richard Strader said the drivers of the trucks both claimed to have a green light. Both drivers passed field sobriety tests and neither appeared impaired, he said. The drivers, Jorge Silva, 40, and Darryl McGregor, 55, were not hurt.
McGregor lives just four blocks from the bus shelter, and his wife, Margaret, said of her husband: “He’s pretty shaken up, but he’s OK. Right now, we’re hoping that the kids are going to be OK.”
She said the crash was not her husband’s fault, but said she did not want to go into specifics, and nor did her husband.
“We’re not giving interviews,” she said.
The three children were at the stop with their father, who was also hospitalized, Strader said. He wasn’t sure about the extent of the father’s injuries.
Police were seeking the driver of a maroon car who may have witnessed the crash. The driver of the maroon car was following one of the trucks, but did not stop after the crash.
Tina Quigley, general manager of the RTC, put out a statement Friday afternoon.
“As a parent, I find this accident to be devastating, and our thoughts and prayers are with the family and children today,” she wrote. “This accident is another example of how safety is an issue for our entire community. While the RTC cannot protect our community from drivers who are not following the rules of the road, we have and continue to take measures to make safety enhancements where possible.”
Friday’s crash comes just more than a year after a deadly crash at a Las Vegas bus stop, which raised questions about the safety of RTC bus stops.
Four people were killed and eight were injured on Sept. 13, 2012, when Gary Lee Hosey, 24, crashed his car into a crowded bus stop on Spring Mountain Road and Decatur Boulevard.
Hosey remains jailed at Clark County Detention Center on $4 million bail.
One of the injured victims in that crash, Zexiang Wang, has sued Hosey, Clark County and the RTC. Her lawsuit claimed the county and the RTC were negligent for ignoring a 2008 RTC study that found more than 1,000 bus stops unsafe.
Moving the stops could reduce accidents by up to 80 percent, the report said.
But the city and county don’t own most of the private property around the 3,156 bus stops in the Las Vegas Valley, 1,780 of which have shelters. Of the 1,780 shelters, 1,087 are placed less than 5 feet from the curb.
“In the location of today’s crash, there is no (right-of-way) or easement behind the sidewalk to allow us to move the shelter back,” Castro said.
It’s something they’ve been working to solve in the wake of other deadly bus stop accidents in recent years, but it’s not a quick-fix situation.
The city of Las Vegas announced a $1 million donation in February to the region’s transportation coalition. The money will be used to buy private property near bus stops, prioritized by the number of daily riders, so about 150 shelters can be moved back. The shelter at Lamb and Bonanza, which was installed before 1996, has only 50 riders a day.
“We will move those back as the city obtains the right of way,” Castro wrote.
The RTC carries more than 60 million riders a year.
In addition to the city’s endeavor, the RTC plans a $2.25 million project to update about 150 shelters to the new safety standards. Updating one shelter costs about $15,000, not including any additional costs of acquiring the property from a private owner.
Review-Journal writer Tom Ragan contributed to this report.
Contact reporter Mike Blasky at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0283. Follow @blasky on Twitter.