CARTA bus takes out trees, pole in curbside crash downtown - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

CARTA bus takes out trees, pole in curbside crash downtown

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CHATTANOOGA (WRCB)-- Beverly Clark never has been aboard a CARTA bus in trouble.

"I've been riding for 50 years," she says. "When you're crossing a street they always shake, but brakes always stop!"

Not, apparently, at 11th and Market Thursday morning. Chattanooga Police say Lawrence Wilkerson, 54, told them he hit the brakes aboard his otherwise empty electric shuttle, and got nothing.

"That's awful," frequent rider Keosha Ross says. "Was anybody hurt?"

Nobody else was aboard. Wilkerson hurt one of his fingers, and spent the rest of the work shift at home.

Three saplings and a light pole aren't so fortunate; the shuttle bus took out all of them on TVA's side of Market.

The pole itself, stopped the bus in the curb.

"They should provide CARTA with better equipment," frequent rider Sharreiff Horton says. "You know, I think they should just make sure everything is in order."

Horton's concerns raise critical questions. How fast was the bus going? When were the brakes last checked, or replaced?

"I don't feel comfortable riding on the bus now," Horton says. "Seriously."

CARTA's Executive Director Tom Dugan tells Eyewitness News that the shuttle's mechanicals "check out fine, both brakes and steering."

The shuttle has 'black boxes' aboard; creating audio and visual records of events, actions and operations preceding the crash, Dugan says.

CARTA also tested Wilkerson for drugs and alcohol, standard procedure when drivers are involved in crashes.

Wilkerson has been unreachable for comment.

"We're leaning toward driver error at this point," Dugan says. "The matter could go to a Safety Review Committee, made up of supervisors and union personnel, for possible disciplinary action.

For now, Clark is keeping the faith.

"It's not a bargain, but it's a ride," she says. "It's just something that happens every once in awhile."

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