A woman was killed and a man was critically injured Wednesday afternoon when a Metropolitan Transit District bus drove onto the sidewalk and slammed into a bus bench in downtown Santa Barbara, according to the Santa Barbara Police Department.
The 2:20 p.m. crash occurred just east of the intersection of Figueroa and Chapala streets, which is near MTD’s busy transit center.
It appears that the woman was sitting on an MTD bus stop bench that was struck by the bus, said Anthony Wagner, a Police Department spokesman.
She was identified Thursday as Eve Debra Johnson, age 67, of Santa Barbara.
A man in the vicinity suffered major injuries, and was taken by AMR ambulance to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.
His name and details on his condition were not available Wednesday evening.
“According to witnesses, prior to the collision, the bus was traveling north on Chapala Street before making a right turn east on to Figueroa Street,” Wagner said. “For a yet-to-be-determined reason, the bus continued turning, driving up onto the sidewalk and striking two individuals before coming to rest inside a city parking lot against four vehicles.”
The woman’s body was covered with a yellow tarp in the parking lot, and Santa Barbara County Coroner’s bureau personnel were dispatched to the scene.
It is not known how many people were on the bus, but least two people were taken to the hospital with moderate injuries, Wagner said, adding that several others sustained minor injuries but declined treatment.
Cause of the crash remained under investigation.
“Investigators are in the process of interviewing more than 20 witnesses, including the bus driver,” Wagner said, adding that the driver will be tested for alcohol and drugs.
“The area in which the incident took place is expected to remain closed for a number of hours while investigators detail the scene.”
City Fire Department declared a mass-casualty incident at the scene, which alerts regional hospitals, fire, law enforcement and paramedic services.
At least 20 police officers and 20 firefighters were on the scene, and paramedics tended to injured passengers on the bus, Wagner said.
MTD spokeswoman Hillary Blackerby said the buses have internal and external video recording at all times, and the 1020 Chapala St. transit center’s temporary facilities adjacent to the crash scene have cameras as well.
Figueroa Street was closed between Chapala and State streets, and other nearby roadways were blocked during the response to the collision.
Check back with Noozhawk for updates to this story.
Noozhawk reporter Brooke Holland reported from the scene.