Saskatoon woman, 88, hit by bus speaks out after another injured at same spot

1 / 3
Saskatoon woman, 88, hit by bus speaks out after another injured at same spot

An 88-year-old woman who's recovering after being struck by a Saskatoon city bus in December is speaking out after another woman was hit at the same intersection Thursday night.

And her son says the city needs to do a full transit safety review.

Three pedestrians have been hit and injured by Saskatoon Transit buses in the past four months, with two of the injuries occurring at the same intersection near the downtown bus terminal.

The first was 88-year-old Lella Prochner, who was struck by a bus while crossing the street on a crosswalk at the intersection of Third Avenue N. and 23rd Street E. on Dec. 3.

"It hit my shoulder, broke quite a few ribs and then spun me around," Lella said Friday. "Then the back part of the bus turned, of course, and the wheels went over my ankles."

Prochner said she was left in the middle of the street, but the driver didn't see her and kept going.

With a broken right ankle, broken right heel and broken ribs, she crawled to the sidewalk. An ambulance appeared and she was rushed to the hospital.

Almost four months later, she's just starting to walk again but still uses a wheelchair.

"It's a long journey to get well after being hit by a city bus, I can tell you," she said. "It changes your life."

Prochners raise Alberta blind spot issue

Lella and her son Ron Prochner spoke out in December to raise safety concerns, saying they believed Lella had been in the bus driver's blind spot.  

"We were hoping that when people heard about mine that something would be done about it and there wouldn't be any more like that," she said.

On Thursday night, a 54-year-old woman was hit and injured while crossing the street at the same intersection where Lella Prochner was injured.  

In both incidents, the buses were turning left. It is not known if the incidents related to a blind spot issue, or if the second incident occurred on a crosswalk. 

Call for safety review

Now Ron Prochner wants the city to conduct a full safety review of the buses, similar to one that Edmonton launched after two pedestrian deaths in that city late last year.

The bus drivers' union in that city blamed a design flaw in the buses for at least one of those incidents, saying it created a blind spot when turning left. 

"When you look at the tapes of the buses in particular, buses making those left-hand turns, unless that driver leans forward to try to take a look at the obstacles that are facing them, they won't be able to see that person crossing the street," said Prochner.

He would like to see buses fitted with loudspeakers that give pedestrians another warning when the vehicles are turning left, or cameras that give drivers more visibility.   

"One accident probably should have been enough to set off the red flags to do something," Prochner said.

Bus drivers in Edmonton have been pushing transit operators to pressure the manufacturer to get rid of the "A pillar" they say causes the blind spot. 

Edmonton Transit started testing new camera technology to help drivers operate buses in a safer manner in December.

2 incidents appear to be different, says city

The city said transit officials were conducting an internal investigation of the March 16 incident, adding that it appeared there were differences between the two incidents at the Third Avenue intersection.

"Our understanding is that the collision on March 16 occurred under different circumstances than the incident in December," said transportation and utilities general manager Jeff Jorgenson.

Saskatoon police said the driver behind the wheel when Prochner was struck had been charged with allegedly failing to yield under the Traffic Safety Act. The police investigation concluded that Lella Prochner had the right of way.

In a written response to questions from CBC News, the city did not say if it would consider conducting a safety review of city buses.

Another pedestrian hit in March

Another woman, 19, was hit by a city bus at the corner of Quebec Avenue and Circle Drive at about 8:15 a.m. CST on March 7. 

Police said it was believed the woman had left the bus and turned around in an attempt to stop the bus because she believed she had left an item on-board. 

According to the police report, she slipped and was struck by the bus, causing injury to her leg. 

Saskatoon Transit said it had reviewed the on-bus camera video but cannot determine the circumstances of the collision. 

A GoFundMe page has been created for the woman injured in the collision. 

New accident saddening, Lella Prochner says

Meanwhile, Lella Prochner says hearing about the accident from March 16 brought her memories flooding back.

She's disappointed that people are still being hurt at that corner downtown.

"It's a bit sad," she said.