A man stumbled into a Nashville street and was killed by a WeGo bus on Thursday morning.
Police say the crash happened at about 8:30 a.m. in the 600 block of Eighth Avenue South, close to a train bridge underpass in an area with high pedestrian foot traffic.
The 54-year-old victim fell from the sidewalk as the bus passed and was crushed under its rear wheels, said police spokesman Don Aaron.
“If not for his stumbling, losing his balance, for a reason yet to be determined, this would not have occurred,” he said.
The 50-year-old bus driver, from Murfreesboro, showed no signs of impairment.
WeGo CEO Steve Bland issued a statement Thursday afternoon:
“The entire WeGo family is devastated by this morning’s accident and wants to extend our deepest condolences to the victim’s family and loved ones, and to our bus operator. Safety is our number one priority, not just for our passengers on board but for everyone in Nashville alongside our buses. We will be reviewing what happened this morning to determine whether there are any steps to be taken to further decrease the chances of accidents like this occurring in the future…”
Police and bystanders said the victim was homeless and seen often in the area, but that he did not stay at the shelters nearby.
The crash elicited concerns about safety, with some pedestrians and bus riders saying they often see cars speeding, and that drivers often ignore a mid-block pedestrian crossing with a flashing light. That crossing is about 200 feet from where the man died Thursday.
“You would think that there would be a little bit more caution,” said Jeremiah Knox, who stays at one of the shelters. “Homeless people aren’t really cared for as much … they’re the have-nots.”
Elmer Morris, who walks to work in the area, called the crossing “horrible.”
“I’m cautious, but I know about the driving situation down here,” he said. “It’s not the homeless situation down here, it’s the driving — which the police need to address that.”
The pedestrian death is the 16th in 2019, according to the volunteer-run Nashville Pedestrian Death Registry.
The nonprofit WalkBike Nashville also weighed in on the stretch of road “that is well known to be dangerous for those on foot.”
The group’s director, Nora Kern, said she is devastated and frustrated, “because this crash could have been prevented, had TDOT and Metro Nashville moved forward with the complete street plans for 8th Ave in 2017. … Streets should be designed so that human mistakes don’t have to be fatal.”
While Metro considered redesigning the street, there’s been no action since 2017 and a Metro Public Works spokeswoman said Thursday that there is no plan to reconfigure the roadway.
The Tennessee Department of Transportation does not have the street on its repaving schedule through 2021, nor plans to alter its lanes, a spokeswoman said.
This story was last updated at 4:27 p.m.