The 72-year-old woman struck and pinned under a public transit bus over the weekend in downtown Duluth was reported to be “stable, conscious, alert and recovering” on Monday, the Duluth Police Department said.
The woman, Mary Beth McDade, remained in St. Luke’s hospital and was listed in fair condition on Monday. She declined to talk about the incident.
The driver of the Duluth Transit Authority bus was placed on administrative leave, said DTA General Manager Phil Pumphrey, who explained that the Federal Transit Administration requires drug and alcohol testing under a variety of circumstances, including following an injury-related crash.
The DTA had not received the results of the test, and Pumphrey said it was unlikely the DTA would release information prior to the conclusion of the investigation by police and the Minnesota State Patrol. As part of the investigation, Pumphrey said authorities are reviewing security video footage taken aboard the bus.
The crash occurred shortly before 1 p.m. on Saturday at the intersection of Third Avenue West and Superior Street. Dozens of first responders swarmed the 300 block of West Superior Street to help McDade. The DTA bus stopped about halfway through a westward turn from Third Avenue West onto Superior Street. It remains unclear which direction McDade was walking.
Architect Jody Keppers has an office at the corner of the intersection. He arrived to work following the crash, as first responders were rescuing McDade.
“I’ve been about to cross that intersection before and said, ‘Oh, I better not, there’s a bus about to be turning,’” Keppers said.
The intersection at the site of the crash is busy with bus traffic every day. Pumphrey estimated 120 turns a day by DTA buses at that intersection. Buses emanating from the Duluth Transportation Center on Michigan Street go one of two ways - up Third Avenue West, taking a left and proceeding west on Superior Street, or up Second Avenue West to then go east. Buses returning from the east also drop down to Michigan Street from Superior Street by making a left onto Third Avenue West.
“It’s a lot of left-hand turns there,” Pumphrey said of the Third Avenue West intersection.
The crash was believed to be the first incident at the intersection since the transportation center opened in 2016. Last fall, a DTA bus struck a runaway SUV which had malfunctioning brakes in Lincoln Park. In 2015, a 53-year-old passenger was killed after he was ejected from a DTA bus which crashed in downtown Duluth following a health emergency involving the driver.
“My first concern is always for the person injured,” Pumphrey said. “My second concern is the driver, who is very shook up. I’ve seen drivers in the past who weren’t at fault but left the field of driving because it’s very traumatic for them.”
Keppers has a clear view of the intersection from his office at Keppers Design. He described it as a “tricky” intersection - one governed by signal lights and featuring crosswalks in all directions.
“The thing about traffic signals is there’s designed to facilitate movement of vehicle traffic,” he said. “Pedestrians are about at the bottom of the equation.”
Pumphrey also noted the value in making eye contact with the driver.
“Any time you have an intersection with a lot of people moving around you’ve got to be careful - watching the driver and making sure they see you,” he said.