An RTD bus driver told police he didn't slow down before running over and severely injuring a 72-year-old cyclist on the 16th Street Mall, because he "had passengers," according to a police report obtained by TheDenverChannel.com Wednesday.
The bus driver, Sander Klein, 43, has been cited for careless driving resulting in serious bodily injury in the accident, the report said.
Read the police accident report
Klein, who was hired by RTD more than six years ago, was cited for careless driving while driving an RTD bus on the mall in 2005, RTD spokesman Scott Reed confirmed. The careless driving charge was dismissed when Klein pleaded guilty to operating an unsafe vehicle, according to court records.
During the Sunday night accident, Klein said he never pressed the brakes at he approached the cyclist, the police report said.
Instead the driver repeatedly honked his horn at the cyclist, who "appeared to have become scared and lost control of his bike and fell to the ground," the police report said.
The left rear tire of the northbound bus rolled over the bike and the man's right leg, ripping the flesh from his thigh to the bone during the 9:40 p.m. Sunday accident, according to the report and witnesses.
"There were several witnesses who felt the bus never slowed down prior to impact or tried to avoid (the cyclist)," the report said.
At least three witnesses told police the bus driver was driving "fast" or "approaching behind (the cyclist) quickly."
The cyclist, Vernon Hall of Denver, was taken to Denver Health Medical Center where medical staff initially told police he would require surgery and might lose the leg, the report said.
Dr. Jenny Buchanan filled out a serious bodily injury form for police, saying that Hall's injuries posed a substantial risk of death and serious, permanent disfigurement, the accident report said. The doctor also noted the man suffered bone fractures.
Hall had improved to fair condition on Wednesday, a hospital spokesperson said.
A passenger on the bus, Julian Swayze, told 7NEWS the bus "kind of sideswiped (the cyclist.) We didn't hit him with the front of the bus. We all felt the bus run him over."
In a videotaped police statement, "Klein admitted he saw Hall as he was approaching him (but) never slowed down by braking because he 'had passengers,'" the report said.
Instead, the bus driver said "he honked his horn multiple times to alert (Hall)," the report said. "Hall began to move to the left side of the lane and Klein honked the horn again."
Video from the bus surveillance camera system showed the cyclist riding ahead of the bus on the left side of the lane, a traffic investigator wrote in the report said.
"As the bus passed, Hall fell from his bicycle and was then run over by the left rear tire," the report said.
The bus driver immediately stopped, police said.
Several bus passengers rushed to help the bleeding man, taking off their shirts and someone put their belt around his leg as a tourniquet, said Swayze, who is an emergency medical technician.
"He was in pretty bad condition, his thigh was down to the bone. There was a big puddle of blood. All the muscle and everything was worn off," Swayze said. But he added that the biker was wearing a helmet, and was conscious and coherent after the crash.
Officers found a pool of blood and a trail of flesh from the point of impact to where the bus stopped on 16th near Lawrence Street, the report said. Flesh was also found on the tire.
Cyclists are allowed to ride along the mall on Sundays, but prohibited other days of the week.
Now RTD plans to meet with Downtown Denver Partnership and city officials to discuss whether cycling on the mall should be completely banned, given the busy nature of the popular pedestrian mall.
Klein is on investigative suspension during RTD's internal review of the accident, Reed said.
"The police report is a very important part of our investigation," he added.
The transit agency's safety record has been questioned after four people died during three accidents involving RTD buses in a four-day span in April.
RTD defended hiring and retaining a bus driver charged with careless driving in the April 7 death of a Lafayette cyclist.
The driver, Paul John Johnson, 67, had a prior conviction for driving while ability impaired before he was hired by RTD, according to court records. In 2003, Johnson was driving an RTD bus in Boulder when he sideswiped another bicyclist. He was convicted of careless driving in the 2003 case.
After the string of deadly accidents, the transit agency began giving drivers safety refresher training and most of them have completed the classes, Reed said.
But the transit agency safety reputation has taken flak.
After the cyclist was run over Sunday, a reader wrote: "Seriously, RTD buses are becoming death mobiles," on TheDenverChannel.com
"Another black mark for RTD," another reader posted. "Boy, what more can they (RTD drivers) do wrong now?!!"