The SamTrans bus driver involved in a fatal collision near a senior home in downtown Palo Alto last December has been charged with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter, prosecutors said Monday.
However, Morena Guadalupe Artiga will not be charged with gross negligence, the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office said.
Artiga, a 49-year-old San Carlos woman and SamTrans employee for 12 years, faces a maximum of one year in county jail if convicted, said Supervising Deputy District Attorney Rob Baker.
On Dec. 30, Artiga made a left turn from southbound Webster Street onto eastbound University Avenue at about 7 mph, according to a police report released Monday. Artiga's bus struck Sheena Marie Barker, who was walking north across University, the report said.
Barker, a Cupertino woman and mother of three adult children, was pronounced dead at the scene.
According to her husband M.S. Krishnan, Barker was a caregiver on her way to Lytton Gardens to assist an elderly, partially paralyzed woman.
Palo Alto police determined Artiga was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol, speeding or using her cell phone when the bus struck Barker, according to the report. She wasn't talking to passengers and there were no loud noises or music in the background, investigators said.
However, police said they found her at fault for failing to see Barker.
"In the final analysis, Artiga should have clearly seen Barker standing on the corner and/or walking north within the crosswalk," the report said.
"Consequently, Artiga should have yielded the right-of-way to Barker [a pedestrian], and Artiga should not have proceeded ahead until Barker had passed and until it was safe to do so."
The crash happened on a bright day and the "sun created shadows upon the certain portions of the roadway, and reflections upon the bus' windshield," according to the report. Artiga was wearing sunglasses, had pulled down the sun visor and didn't appear bothered by the glare, according to the police report.
"The facts pretty much speak for themselves," Baker said. "It's really an unfortunate situation for the victim as well as (Artiga)."
However, Baker pointed out Artiga is a professional driver in a large vehicle and that there is no safe speed if your vision is obstructed.
A $5,000 warrant was issued for her arrest Monday. Artiga's attorney Dan Barton said she went to the Palo Alto Police Department, was cited and released. She is scheduled to be arraigned in June.
Barton said he couldn't discuss specifics because he hadn't yet reviewed the case.
"It's obviously a tragedy for everybody," Barton said. "Certainly for Ms. Artiga and the family of the poor woman who died."
Artiga is on administrative leave while SamTrans reviews the police report, a spokeswoman for the agency said.
Email Jesse Dungan at firstname.lastname@example.org.