Louisville, KY - By Matt McCutcheon - e-mail | bio
LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – October 15 marks one month since a fatal crash involving a TARC bus and a motorcycle along Dixie Highway. The driver of that motorcycle, Jonathan Taylor, still remains in intensive care. The crash claimed the life of his passenger, and is raising questions about TARC safety as we learn more about the bus driver.
Just as he has been for his nearly 20 plus year career with TARC, 52-year-old Elbert Bledsaw was driving dented and banged up bus 2925 in the 9000 block of Dixie Highway on September 15 when a second later everything changed. The crash crushed and smashed Taylor's motorcycle, sending him to the hospital with serious injury, while killing his passenger, 21-year-old Diana Chism.
A police report cites Bledsaw for inattention and failing to yield the right of way. But we found this was not the first crash for the TARC bus driver, yet he's still on the job.
"We made a determination he was fit to work and that's pretty much all I've got to say about the accident at this point," said Barry Barker, TARC executive director.
Bledsaw's TARC record spans nearly 300 pages and includes details nearly half-a-dozen different suspensions he's served during his 20-plus years for things like leaving bus stops too early and for hitting things like light poles and newspaper boxes while driving the bus. But Barker says Bledsaw's record hasn't been serious enough for termination.
"If you look at his record, it's over 20 years, and you start to look at the details, which again I can't really get into because it's part of litigation, but the details show these were minor events," Barker said.
Some 55,000 people get on and off TARC buses each day. Barker says safety is a top priority and that his group continuously monitors its safety practices.
"We keep looking at folks; we've got a training department that does routine refresher training; we've got extensive training before we ever turn a bus over to folks, so we're doing everything we can," Barker said.
But that is not good enough for Taylor's family. As he lay fighting for his life at University Hospital, his family is fighting TARC and the bus driver with a lawsuit, claiming Bledsaw drove "careless, reckless, or in a grossly negligent manner."
Not everything in Bledsaw's file is bad. It also includes several positive things, like letters of accommodation from TARC leaders and even passengers.
The Taylor family couldn't be reached for comment, and their attorney failed to return calls from us for comment. Meanwhile, TARC continues its own investigation into the crash.