Bus driver not indicted in fatal accident

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A Portland bus driver will not face any criminal charges for hitting five pedestrians on a downtown crosswalk and killing two of them.

A Multnomah County grand jury on Wednesday declined to indict TriMet bus driver Sandi Day, 48, who struck the group of two men and three women while making a left turn just before midnight on April 24.

Jenee Hammel, 26, of Gresham, and Danielle Sale, 22, of Vancouver, Wash., died under the wheels of the 17-ton bus.

Hammel’s father, Robert Hammel, called the grand jury’s decision “unbelievable” and “ridiculous.”

He said he is considering a lawsuit against TriMet, the largest transit agency in the state.

“It was a totally illegal turn and she was not indicted on anything,” Robert Hammel said. “What a joke.”

TriMet General Manager Fred Hansen called the accident “an unbelievable tragedy” and said the agency is conducting a comprehensive safety review.

An eight-page report by Chuck Sparks, senior deputy district attorney, provided details of the accident but concluded “it is not chargeable as criminally negligent homicide.”

Sparks noted that most vehicular homicides that result in criminal charges are more serious manslaughter cases because they involve intoxicated drivers who also engage in other traffic offenses, including speeding, making unsafe passes and running stop signs or red lights.

“Criminally negligent homicide cases typically involve this same level of bad driving, but usually without intoxication,” Sparks said in the report.

He noted Day was not intoxicated, was not taking any prescription medication and was not using her cell phone.

He also noted she had been named a TriMet “safe driver” for the past two years, and had a lower than average number of complaints.

But the report concluded Day made an illegal left turn that crossed two traffic lanes and was at fault for striking the pedestrians who were legally in the crosswalk.

Jenee Hammel’s brother, Ryan Hammel, 28, and his wife, Jamie Hammel, 23, suffered minor injuries while Sale’s boyfriend, Robert Erik Gittings, 22, of Boise, Idaho, was hospitalized with serious injuries.

The group was just leaving a downtown comedy club when they were hit.