The siblings of a Santa Barbara woman struck and killed by a Metropolitan Transit District bus last fall have filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the operator and driver, claiming negligence.
Attorney Robert Sanger filed the lawsuit on behalf of Janel Smith and Craig Johnson, sister and brother of Eve “Evie” Debra Johnson. The civil complaint lists the victim’s name as Debra Eve Johnson.
Defendants include the Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District and the bus driver, Aura Leticia Mijangos.
Evie Johnson, 67, was killed instantly on the afternoon of Oct. 9, 2019, while waiting for a bus. She was sitting on the bench at the temporary MTD bus stop on Figueroa Street.
A second woman, Gloria Bravo De Ayala, 75, was critically injured, according to police. Several passengers on the bus also sustained injuries.
Authorities previously said that, at the time of the crash, the bus was traveling 5-10 mph, and was due to pick up passengers at the bus stop.
The bus driver made a right turn onto northbound West Figueroa toward the bus stop, accelerated, jumped the curb, and struck Evie Johnson, according the civil complaint.
“Plaintiffs are informed and believe on the basis of the Santa Barbara Police Department investigation, including statements by defendant Mijangos, that defendant Mijangos negligently depressed the gas pedal instead of the brake, causing the bus to jump the curb and crush Evie Johnson,” the lawsuit alleges.
She died at the scene “as a result of severe injuries to her head and body,” the lawsuit alleges.
Evie Johnson was not married at the time of the incident and did not have any children, according to civil lawsuit.
The civil complaint represents only the plaintiff’s side of the case.
Attorneys for the defendants are expected to file a written response to the lawsuit in the coming weeks.
The lawsuit claims wrongful death and seeks general and special damages along with lawsuit costs and other relief deemed just and proper.
The plaintiffs have demanded a jury trial.
A case-management conference has been scheduled for Dec. 18 before Judge Donna Geck.
In June, the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office filed a misdemeanor manslaughter charge against Mijangos, alleging she committed “ordinary negligence” in her operation of the bus.
A planned Aug. 17 arraignment hearing date was vacated since the court currently is not scheduling misdemeanor cases for out-of-custody defendants, Chief Deputy District Attorney John Savrnoch said.
The date for Mijangos to return to court remains up in the air, pending lifting of COVID-19 restrictions and rescheduling of the cases placed on hold in recent months due to the public health emergency.