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Pickup knocks STA bus into South Hill house

Sat., Sept. 16, 2006

Chuck Wallace works early morning hours as an airport security officer for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, so he was taking a nap about 3:30 p.m. Friday when a transit bus rearranged his dining room.

“So much for home security,” he said, surveying the wreckage.

The bus that demolished Wallace’s bay window and part of his rock foundation continued up a steep embankment, through a chain link fence and lodged in his backyard.

No one was seriously injured, though, when the No. 45 Spokane Transit Authority bus was knocked off its route by a compact pickup, carrying 1,000 pounds of cement, that ran a stop sign at 17th Avenue and Perry Street.

Bus driver James Cleveland was “doing fine” after being treated and released at a hospital, STA risk manager Dave Voller said.

“It definitely is a media event, but the bottom line is that nobody was hurt, and that’s the most important thing,” Voller said.

“Houses and buses can get fixed.”

The northbound bus, carrying five passengers, was coming downhill on Perry when its right front wheel was struck by a Carpet Warehouse pickup that 23-year-old Ben Arthur was driving west on 17th.

“I completely didn’t see the stop sign, and the bus was coming down Perry,” Arthur said. “I just smacked right into the side of the bus.”

He was delivering 20 50-pound bags of cement to his boss at the time and was glad none of the bags came through the truck’s back window.

“I was going the speed limit,” Arthur said. “I don’t know how it actually made the bus veer that much.”

Bus passenger Adam Crowder said the coach careened to the left when it was hit and then to the right when it struck Wallace’s house.

Crowder said he was riding about 10 feet from the back of the bus, and a girl who was seated at the back wound up in front of him when she was flung forward through the aisle.

Crowder grabbed on to a seat to keep his place, but his knee was bruised and his back was “a little stiff” afterward.

“The bus driver got banged up pretty good,” he said.

Another bus arrived to complete the trip for the other passengers, but it was Crowder’s bad luck to have to wait for a ride from Geiger Corrections Center. He was on his way back from his work-release job when the accident stranded him in a crowd of reporters and other gawkers.

“I’m not real proud of that,” he said.

It was Wallace’s extra bad luck to have just finished painting the side of his house that was hit.

“He said it was just like washing your car, and then it rains,” neighbor Gerald Almanza observed.

Even Wallace’s brother-in-law, Ron Simon, came to watch an oversize STA tow truck winch the high-centered, teetering bus out of Wallace’s backyard.

“Hey, there,” Simon greeted Wallace. “Holding an open house?”


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