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'How is this tolerated?' Family grieves after DDOT driver's second fatal accident

Driver taken off the road while investigation into second fatality is ongoing
Posted at 5:13 PM, Jun 06, 2023

DETROIT, Mich. (WXYZ) — The fatal bus accident Friday in downtown Detroit was not the first for the driver behind the wheel.

The DDOT veteran who ran over 67-year-old Janice Bauer at the intersection of Congress and Griswold, according to multiple sources, also ran over and killed pedestrian Joey Davis years earlier.

“This was a human life that was lost once, and now we’re faced with this again,” said attorney James Harrington, whose firm represented Davis’s family in 2015. “It’s unacceptable.”

Surveillance video showed that Davis was run over after stepping off the bus and retrieving his bike from the rack at the front.

The driver appears to be looking up at her rearview mirror and didn’t notice Davis was right in front of her when she started driving forward.

“The driver just took off. Horrible accident. No excuse,” said Dan Dirks in 2017, while he was director of DDOT. “One of our customers suffered a fatality.”

Dirks said the bus driver responsible was taken off the road for a year before being retrained and returned to full duty in 2017.

“(She) went through extensive retraining...the last report I heard, which was a couple of days ago, was that she was doing fine,” Dirks said back in 2017.

Reached by phone Tuesday, Joey Davis’s daughter Rachel said she was stunned to learn that the same driver who ran over her father was allowed to remain behind the wheel.

“I feel like the people who let her back were very negligent in their job and her re-training,” Davis said. “I feel like if they had properly done their jobs, another woman wouldn’t have lost their life.”

Harrington and the Fieger law firm sued the city over the 2015 death, settling the case for $4.5 million.

“The right thing would have been to remove her from the road and never allow her to get back behind awheel to allow something like this to happen,” Harrington said.

The bus driver was taken off the road Friday, while an investigation into the fatal accident is ongoing.

“This is an event that never should have happened in any circumstances. It’s broad daylight, and she ran over not only one but two members of our community and killed them,” Harrington said. “How is this tolerated?”

In a statement released Friday, Mayoral spokesman John Roach said, in part, that a review is already ongoing to determine “whether the city has the proper internal and labor relations processes in place to prevent accidents involving the city’s bus operators.”

Contact 7 Investigator Ross Jones at ross.jones@wxyz.com or at (248) 827-9466.