C-Tran fires bus driver involved in fatal collision

By Eric Florip, Columbian Transportation & Environment Reporter



C-Tran has fired the bus driver involved in last year’s collision that killed a pedestrian in downtown Vancouver.

The transit agency sent its “notice of intent to terminate” to driver Al Purvis on Friday. The firing became effective later the same day, according to C-Tran.

On Dec. 2, Purvis was driving the No. 4 route when his bus struck and killed 88-year-old Vancouver resident Margaret McCluskey. Purvis was making a left turn from Eighth Street onto Washington Street, heading south, and struck McCluskey as she crossed Washington in the crosswalk.

“After extensive review of the testimony and facts presented during this investigation, it has been determined that you are at fault in this accident,” C-Tran Base Operations Manager Dan Gufrey wrote in the notice. “No extenuating factors have surfaced that would suggest otherwise.”

The decision comes less than two weeks after Vancouver police made public their initial reports from officers responding to the accident. C-Tran concluded its own investigation on Aug. 1, according to the notice. Purvis, 63, had been on paid leave since the accident.

Police and witness reports indicated that numerous passengers saw -McCluskey in the intersection before the bus struck her. A later re-enactment of the accident determined a pillar in the bus’s windshield may have blocked Purvis’ view.

Clark County prosecutors did not charge Purvis with any crime.

C-Tran cited its own accident policy in its decision to fire Purvis. An incident involving a fatality is considered a “category 4 accident.” That’s punishable by dismissal on the first occurrence, according to the policy, unless the driver has at least a three-year history of accident-free driving. Records show Purvis had been involved in five previous accidents in his 17-year career, the most recent coming in 2009.

C-Tran has some discretion on discipline, depending on the circumstances of a given accident, said public affairs director Scott Patterson. In Purvis’ case, the agency found him at fault, and moved to fire him after police reports revealed nothing to change that, Patterson said.

“At that point the decision was made,” he said.

Amalgamated Transit Union Local 757, which represents Purvis and other C-Tran drivers, has until the end of August to file a grievance challenging the decision. As of Wednesday, that had not happened, Patterson said. An ATU officer could not be immediately reached late Wednesday afternoon.

Eric Florip: 360-735-4541; http://twitter.com/col_enviro; eric.florip@columbian.com.