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Pedestrian Found at Fault in Fatal Trolley Accident in Santa Barbara

Police investigator says MTD driver did not contribute to Nov. 23 collision that killed Ratan Bahadur Lamichhane

Signs seeking witnesses have been placed near the Santa Barbara intersection where Ratan Bahadur Lamichhane of Michigan was struck and fatally injured by an MTD trolley on Nov. 23.
Signs seeking witnesses have been placed near the Santa Barbara intersection where Ratan Bahadur Lamichhane of Michigan was struck and fatally injured by an MTD trolley on Nov. 23.  (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)

As the Santa Barbara Police Department investigation draws to a close, the initial determination in a fatal vehicle accident remains unchanged: A pedestrian hit by an electric trolley las month while crossing the street was at fault in the collision.

Ratan Bahadur Lamichhane, 66, of Michigan died of head injuries after he was hit by a Metropolitan Transit District trolley on Anacapa Street at about 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 23 while he was crossing westbound near the Sola Street intersection, according to police.

The trolley driver has been identified as Eric Charles Maas.

“The pedestrian unfortunately left the curb about two to three seconds before the bus arrived, and when you calculate out the numbers, it doesn’t give enough time for a bus driver to stop,” said Officer Jaycee Hunter, who is investigating the accident.

The investigation determined that, at 20 mph, the trolley takes about 33 feet to stop, he said, not counting additional distance during the reaction time by the driver.

“Nothing indicates that the MTD driver did anything that contributed to the collision,” Hunter said.

Family members of the victim may not be so sure.

According to the Police Department, the family has hired an attorney, and investigators placed signs at the intersection of Anacapa and Sola streets seeking witnesses to the fatal collision.

“They are, I don’t think, pleased to hear we think the pedestrian is at fault,” Hunter said.

Police have reached out offering to interview the family members and any witnesses who reply to the signs, he said.

Lamichhane was walking a short distance behind his wife and sister-in-law at the time of the collision, and because of the trauma and language barrier at the scene, the women were not interviewed by police, Hunter said.

Officers did speak with them, but a thorough statement was never taken, he said.

“They weren’t able, understandably, to give any statements because of the trauma of the situation,” he said.

Police say two independent witnesses corroborate what the trolley driver said, which is that the pedestrian ran into the roadway outside the crosswalk and the trolley hit him.

Lamichhane lived in Michigan, and he and his wife were visiting family in town for Thanksgiving, according to police. They are originally from Nepal, Hunter said.

No passengers were on the trolley at the time, and police have not investigated whether the driver was working a route at the time.

There is a crosstown shuttle stop at Anacapa and Anapamu, about two blocks down the street from the crash site.  

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Emergency personnel attend to Ratan Bahadur Lamichhane, 66, of Michigan, who was fatally injured on Nov. 23 when he was struck by an MTD trolley on Anacapa Street in downtown Santa Barbara. Police say he was to blame in the accident. Click to view larger
Emergency personnel attend to Ratan Bahadur Lamichhane, 66, of Michigan, who was fatally injured on Nov. 23 when he was struck by an MTD trolley on Anacapa Street in downtown Santa Barbara. Police say he was to blame in the accident. (Urban Hikers / Noozhawk file photo)
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