Saturday, February 23, 2019     Volume: 19, Issue: 51

Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on July 11th, 2018, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 19, Issue 19 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 19, Issue 19

SMAT bus driver involved in fatal collision will not face criminal charges

By Kasey Bubnash

The Santa Maria city bus driver involved in April's fatal collision with a bicyclist will not face criminal charges, according to the Santa Barbara County District Attorney's Office. 

Santa Maria resident Veronica Perez, 43, was seriously injured when she was hit by a Route 7 Santa Maria Area Transit (SMAT) bus just before 6 p.m. on April 2. The bus was headed west on East McCoy Lane when it collided with Perez near the corner of Caballero Lane, according to Mark van de Kamp, public information officer for the city.

Perez was cycling in the bike lane on McCoy when she was hit, van de Kamp said in a media statement on April 3. She was taken by helicopter to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, where she died on April 8 due to injuries caused by the collision.

The District Attorney's Office determined on June 28 that after a nearly months-long investigation into the incident, the unnamed driver would not be charged. 

Santa Maria resident Veronica Perez, 43, was seriously injured when she was hit by a Route 7 Santa Maria Area Transit bus near the corner of East McCoy and Caballero on April 2. She died on April 8.

"Based on the traffic collision investigation conducted by the Santa Maria Police Department, and their determination that the bicyclist caused this collision, we determined that no criminal charges would be filed against the bus driver in this unfortunate and tragic event," Chief Deputy District Attorney Mag Nicola wrote in an email to the Sun. 

The decision comes more than a month after the city of Santa Maria formally rejected four $10,000 legal claims filed by Perez's family in May. The claims, which typically serve as the legal step just before filing a lawsuit, were filed immediately following Perez's death on behalf of her husband and three children, according to Ruben Ruiz, a Ventura-based accidents and injuries attorney representing the Perez family. 

The city rejected the claims in a letter on May 25, Ruiz said in a previous interview, and he and his clients still have several months to file a formal complaint through the court system.

Ruiz could not be reached for a comment on the District Attorney's recent decision. 

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