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Man hit by bus wins damages in suit

Sep 25 2012

A former University of Victoria student has been found to be 60 per cent at fault for being struck by a B.C. Transit bus on Quadra Street.

Liam Whelan sued B.C. Transit and driver Henry Kobbero for damages. A decision released Monday has determined the extent to which Kobbero is liable.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Terence Schultes found Whelan had to take most of the responsibility for the collision. He stepped off the sidewalk, into the path of the bus, and was struck on his left shoulder from behind. The front wheel then ran over Whelan's foot.

Kobbero was found to be 40 per cent liable for what Schultes decided was a momentary lapse of care. Kobbero should have anticipated the incident, Schultes ruled.

The total amount of damages was not disclosed in the judgment.

The collision occurred at 3: 20 p.m. on Sunday, March 30, 2008. Whelan had been walking northbound on Quadra toward the Fairways Market store north of where Quadra and Bay streets intersect.

Whelan was listening to his iPod through earbuds but he testified the volume was at mid-level, not high. Four pedestrians were coming the other way and Whelan stepped briefly onto the roadway to get around them.

"As Mr. Whelan stepped out, he was struck by the bus from behind on his left shoulder and sent to the ground," Schultes wrote.

"He did not hear the bus before it struck him. He was pushed forward but did not know how far."

The bus stopped with its front tire on Whelan's right foot.

Kobbero was an experienced driver, having driven buses since 1988, but had been with B.C. Transit for only four years.

Leading up to the collision, he had dropped off passengers at the bus stop and scanned the area around the bus to ensure the coast was clear to return to the roadway.

"He started rolling forward at a walking pace, looking into the left-side mirror at traffic in the lane he was merging into," Schultes said.

"He heard yelling ... from inside the bus to the effect that he had hit someone, so he stopped the bus."

Kobbero then saw Whelan sitting on the curb, with the bus tire on his foot. Kobbero moved his bus slightly to free Whelan's foot and called his dispatcher.

Schultes ruled that Whelan's foolish decision to step onto the roadway is one of the things Kobbero has been trained to anticipate.

Whelan demonstrated a higher degree of carelessness, Schultes said.

"As a pedestrian, he was extremely vulnerable to the oncoming bus, and there were no safe circumstances under which he could have stepped on the road with it still moving in the curb lane."

smcculloch@timescolonist.com

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