A female was killed and several other people were injured when an MTD bus crashed onto the sidewalk Wednesday afternoon near the intersection of Figueroa and Chapala streets near downtown Santa Barbara, police said.
The crash was reported at 2:16 p.m. Arriving units observed two victims on the ground outside of the bus, a female who was declared dead at the scene and a male who had suffered major injuries. Multiple passengers on the bus also reported being injured, at least two of whom were transported to the hospital, said Anthony Wagner, spokesman for the Santa Barbara Police Department.
Santa Barbara City Fire Department personnel were first on scene. An incident commander initiated a Mass Casualty Incident because the number of potential injuries exceeded the immediately available resources. After the MCI was declared, an alert was sent out to local public safety agencies, the hospital and ambulance services to be prepared if additional resources were needed.
In addition, the Santa Barbara Police Department deployed its mobile incident command vehicle and called in the department’s Critical Incident Traffic Investigation Team. Approximately 20 police officers and 20 firefighters responded to the incident, Mr. Wagner said.
It was unclear how many people were aboard the bus at the time of the crash. Along with the two passengers who were transported for treatment, several others reported injuries but declined medical transport. A group of school-aged children were at the corner of Chapala and Figueroa streets and were said to have been passengers on the bus, though authorities were unable to confirm whether they were on the bus at the time of the crash.
Witnesses reported the bus was traveling north on Chapala Street before making a right turn onto Figueroa Street. For reasons that are still under investigation, the bus continued to turn and drove onto the sidewalk and crashed into the pedestrians before coming to rest inside City Lot 3 against four parked vehicles, Mr. Wagner said.
Investigators were in the process Wednesday of interviewing more than 20 witnesses, including the bus driver. The names of the driver, victims or bus passengers were withheld Wednesday. The two who were struck by the bus were believed to be walking on the sidewalk at the time of the incident.
Mayor Cathy Murillo and other city officials were on scene shortly after the crash occurred.
The scene where the crash took place was closed for several hours as the investigation continued. The involved bus was expected to remain out of service through Wednesday night, according to Hillary Blackerby, interim planning and marketing manager for the Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District.
“Obviously it’s disrupting service but that’s not our biggest concern at this moment,” she told the News-Press at the scene.
The transit center’s headquarters near the scene of the crash has been under construction since early September. The busses have not been using the bus circle during construction and have instead been using loading zones on Chapala and Figueroa streets.
According to federal transit administration policy, any incident involving an MTD bus results in the driver being tested for drugs or alcohol.
The California Highway Patrol was called to the scene to assist investigators in determining the cause of the crash.