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Years after deadly crash, some RTD bus drivers still running red lights

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DENVER -- It’s a sunny afternoon just minutes before 5 p.m. on April 3, 2010 and a Regional Transportation District bus packed with passengers is heading north on Lincoln, approaching 8th Street in downtown Denver.

At 8th, the traffic light is already red.

The driver of the RTD bus is going approximately 30 miles per hour and never slows down.

In the intersection, the bus slams into a 2007 Volkswagen Rabbit, tossing it aside like a crumpled toy. The bus then hits a Ford F-150 pickup truck.

Both vehicles were going west on 8th and had the green light.

The impact of the crash tosses panicked passengers and shatters the front windshield of the massive bus.

Several people on the bus are injured, and 29-year-old Dustin Peletier, riding in the Volkswagen, is killed instantly.

His girlfriend and passenger, 29-year-old Carla Miranda, dies a few hours later at the hospital.

There’s never been an explanation for why the driver of the bus, Tidenekiyalesh Hawariyat, 30, didn’t slow down or stop for the red light.

Hawariyat pleaded guilty to two counts of careless driving resulting in death and one count of careless driving resulting in injury. She was sentenced to three years of probation.

FOX31 Denver wanted to know if this was an isolated incident or if RTD buses have continued to run red lights since the deadly crash 3 1/2 years ago.

Under the Colorado Open Records Act, we obtained evidence from the four intersections in Denver equipped with red light cameras.

The answer we uncovered is yes.

FOX31 Denver found RTD vehicles have been cited for red light violations at least 84 times in the past 2 1/2 years.

Some citations are for crossing the white line after the light turned red, but in other cases we found the huge buses blatantly blowing though intersections and clearly red lights.

The video FOX31 Denver obtained shows RTD buses like this one at 6th Avenue and Kalamath Street where the light turns yellow, then red, as the bus enters the camera’s view.

At 6th and Lincoln, an extended bus clearly goes through a red light as the passenger cars surrounding it make the stop.

It’s the same story at 8th and Speer, where another extended bus is caught on camera as the last vehicle running through a solid red light.

FOX31 Denver shared the violations we found with Scott Reed, Assistant General Manager for RTD Communications.

Reed said Motor Vehicle Record checks are performed twice a year on bus operators.

“Any time there’s a situation where we might not be following all of the traffic regulations, that’s a big concern,” Reed said.

We also showed Reed a video example of an RTD bus at 6th and Kalamath. The video shows the light is red at the intersection for at least 7 seconds before the bus drives through it.

“Yeah, that’s a clear violation; something that we definitely want to be sure that we follow-up with that bus operator (on)," Reed responded after watching the video clip. "That is just not acceptable.”

Drivers who are cited for a red light violations are responsible for paying the ticket and the points against their license. Reed said that if a driver loses their license, they also lose their RTD job.

According to RTD, approximately 1,100 vehicles are in operation every day.

Reed said, “It’s all about safety. That is our No. 1 priority, so that is why we take this very, very seriously.”

He pointed out that other drivers on the road can also report red light violations or dangerous driving by those behind the wheel of RTD vehicles by calling the Transit Watch at 303-299-2911.


  • Ron

    In reference to the Denver bus drivers.
    I lived in Chicago for years and saw nothing but them being very
    I have been in Denver since 1977 and have seen nothing but
    aggressive driving and bullies. (that goes for the mall drivers also)
    This culture does start from the top with an attitude that continues

  • Wyo Native

    I fully agree with you Ron. They are some of the most disrespectful drivers I have ever encountered. If I were their boss I would fire many of them.

  • Boulder native

    “Hawariyat pleaded guilty to two counts of careless driving resulting in death and one count of careless driving resulting in injury. She was sentenced to three years of probation.” Three years probation for taking three people’s lives, how is this even right?????????

  • Rebecca Brown

    From the family of Carla Miranda we could not believe our precious Carla and her fiancé Dustin Peletier were taken from us and the driver got a slap on the wrist. Their lives were snuffed out before it even began and that they were killed together……What kind of justice is that? Probation? I think it’s called involuntary manslaughter in most other states.

  • Cigarman

    Not only are RTD bus drivers are bad but school bus driver are JUST as bad along with 80% of regular driver in this world…the DMV hands out drivers license like candy!!!!

  • J P

    Rebecca, my sister was a very good friend of both Carla and Dustin. I know this story well, and it continues to baffle me that the driver really didn’t loose ANYTHING and Carla and Dustin lost EVERYTHING, and in fact so did you! RTD MUST do something about these drivers running red lights!! It’s their JOB to follow the rules of the road! I think if a driver gets caught running a red light it should be an automatic termination, or suspension. Hugs to you.

  • Bryan

    RTD drivers are pretty bad. I recently stopped commuting on RTD because I got so concerned for my safety. Those drivers seem to think that the driving laws don’t apply to them. RTD needs to start taking a stronger stance with reckless drivers in their ranks, including firing those who’ve already received warnings. Unfortunately, they often can’t terminate those people because of their union contract.

  • Mark

    Saying school bus drivers are just as bad, is broad statement. Being school bus driver myself, I know my group bends over backwards to be safe and keep the kids safe. Our problem is with drivers who have no respect: we carry 77 kids, we get cut off by people not wanting to be behind us, we have many people that blow by us when we have our flashing lights and stop sign out. Your statement is as rediculous as saying all people with brown eyes are lousy drivers.

  • Mark

    The driver that got 3 years probation is a joke. Killing people the way she did was using a 30000 lb piece of metal on wheels. That seems as bad or worse than shooting someone,either way, it is called murder.

  • Mark

    You talk about school bus drivers as being just as bad? As a school bus driver myself, I know that the majority of my fellow drivers, take driving 77 kids very seriously. We have many people driving their cars that are on their cell phones, cut us off so they don’t have to get stuck behind us, people running our flashing red lights and flashing stop sign when we are loading or unloading kids. Could go on and on. Saying all school bus drivers are lousy drivers is like saying everyone who drives a white car is a lousy driver.

  • Cindy

    Seriously bus drivers have the right away and they take advantage of that!! They do not yield will push you into another lane of traffic and a lot of time drive in 2 lanes. Not uncommon to be flipped off by them. Ride inr 0 route!!! South on broadway

  • fearfuldriver

    it’s not just the red lights. they are also just as disrespectful on the highways, especially driving up to Boulder. look, we all want to get through US 36 safe, and i now try to avoid the RTD buses since they will squeeze out every last inch to get to where they want to be, even if it means sending other drivers into a panic.

  • steven peletier

    As difficult as this reality is, I need to thank Tad, Chris and the TV station/s for keeping this in the eye of the public.

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