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Motorcyclist Dies in Collision With Big Blue Bus

Accident occurs Tuesday morning on Sunset Boulevard in Pacific Palisades. "It’s extremely tragic," says Santa Monica's Big Blue Bus spokeswoman.

Updated 6:13 p.m.

A motorcyclist, who witnesses described speeding upwards of 80 mph, was killed Tuesday morning in a collision with a Big Blue Bus on Sunset Boulevard and Marquez Avenue in Pacific Palisades.

Palisades Patrol reported the motorcyclist was pinned underneath the bus. There were no passengers aboard.

Since the original publication of this article, the victim's name has been released.

The Santa Monica city bus was headed to its first stop from a layover on Route 9 and made a left-hand turn onto Sunset from Marquez when it collided with the bike about 10:50 a.m., according to Big Blue Bus spokeswoman Suja Lowenthal.

At the scene, detective Brent Johnson of LAPD's West Traffic Division said witnesses described the motorcycle heading west on Sunset at speeds upwards of 80 miles per hour. Later by phone, Sgt. Ben Zucker said more than one witness told investigators the motorcyclist ran a red light on Sunset.

"The light for westbound Sunset was red," Zucker said. "The bus made a legal left hand turn and [other] cars stopped."

Zucker said buses are allowed to make left hand turns at the intersection.  Marquez Avenue splits into two roads for vehicles turning east or west onto Sunset and the bus was at a stop sign on the westbound turn road. Zucker said the bus was turning from that southwesterly direction stop sign and attempting to go east on Sunset when it collided with the motorcycle.

Sunset Boulevard was closed in both directions following the morning accident.

The bus was heavily damaged, with shattered glass visible on the driver's side.

The Big Blue Bus is operated by the city of Santa Monica. Its fleet runs routes across a 52-square-mile service area that stretches from Santa Monica to downtown Los Angeles.

"This is not in any way common," said Lowenthal. "It’s extremely tragic, and thankfully rare."

The city's transit department will conduct an internal investigation, separate from the LAPD, she said.

Santa Monica Patch Editor Jenna Chandler contributed to this report.

Amy B. November 20, 2012 at 10:02 PM
Very dangerous intersection. Cars coming up Sunset don't have anywhere to go when buses are turning onto Sunset from Marquez.
Ted J November 20, 2012 at 10:40 PM
Going over 80 mph did not help!!!
Karen November 20, 2012 at 10:46 PM
That whole area is very unsafe and it's very sad ending.
victor November 20, 2012 at 11:03 PM
All You make comments very fast to judgement. WHY don't you call the city LADOT to make the intersection safe and call and Metro and Big Blue Bus to change the bus route and add more time to the bus schedule.
LJ November 20, 2012 at 11:07 PM
We live in the area and frequently see buses turning left from Marquez onto Sunset without waiting for a green light. I have been cut off numerous times by the blue buses. It is so sad that someone had to die today. Even though the motorcycle was allegedly speeding, this situation might still have been avoided if the buses would stop and wait for the light the way other drivers are required under California law.
Vicki Warren November 21, 2012 at 12:14 AM
I have also seen the Blue Bus turn left against the red light from Marquez onto Sunset many times. I even emailed the Big Blue Bus organization to complain about it. Of course one would not expect to come across a motorcycle driving at 80 mph. Still, I think it's dangerous (and illegal, I would think) for buses to go through the intersection when their light is red.
Patrick Murphy November 21, 2012 at 12:22 AM
I agree, it is very sad. I know that intersection very well and buses are required to turn left out of the right turn lane which is NOT signal controlled. Between the almost blind curve to the right for the cars travelling east on Sunset and the motorists speeding west on their left, it creates a very hazardous turn for the bus. That bus route west should move onto Livorno Dr from Sunset and Marquez (1), that way the left turn back onto Sunset east from Marquez (2) can be made from the appropriate intersection with a traffic signal.
Nick Gnaime November 21, 2012 at 12:24 AM
I like how they mention the rider's speed (which is determined by witnesses that have no training determining speed simply by watching a vehicle go by, especially a motorcycle) but they don't mention the illegal left turn made by the bus.
Jenna Chandler November 21, 2012 at 12:41 AM
Hi Nick Gnaime: The speed was mentioned in the article because it was reported to Patch by LAPD. Matt, the article's author, is trying to confirm the illegal left-hand turn. He'll update you when he knows more. I'm checking with the Big Blue Bus about Vicki's complaint that illegal turns have been made at the intersection many times.
PAUL BOGGIANO November 21, 2012 at 01:32 AM
Its funny that 3 hrs after your one sided story was published you still have made no changes. Bus drivers cause the most accidents in every city. They think that because they drive for the city the roads belong to them. They never use blinkers, always cut people off and never turn from the proper lane. I do not think you should publish an article if you have not done the proper research. The only facts in this murder by the driver of the bus are 1) AN INNOCENT LIFE HAS BEEN TAKEN!! 2) THE BUS THAT KILLED THIS PERSON WAS MAKING A ILLEGAL LEFT TURN!!!! 3) YOU HAVE BIAS REPORTING THAT IS TRYING TO HELP TAKE FAULT FROM THE CITY AND DRIVER OF THE BUS BY ONLY REPORTING THAT THE MOTORCYCLIST WAS SAID TO BE SPEEDING!!!
Jenna Chandler November 21, 2012 at 01:46 AM
Paul: We can't publish that information until it's confirmed by the authorities or at least a witness who actually saw the bus driver make an illegal turn. So far, commenters have said they've seen buses make illegal turns in the past, no one has mentioned seeing it in this particular instance. Matt may have different information. As I mentioned in my earlier post, he's working on following up. Did you see the crash? Did you see the bus make an illegal left turn? Please let us know. Also, you say bus drivers cause the most accidents in every city? Can you point to us to some statistics?
PAUL BOGGIANO November 21, 2012 at 01:57 AM
How do you get it confirmed that he was speeding when the accident investigation has not been completed. That is only an opinion at this time also. How do you excuse publishing one and not the other. I turn for that road almost 3 times a week and i know if you really cared you can pull up google earth and look at that intersection and see the no left turn sign for yourself. However you are ok with quack one sided reporting.
Matthew Sanderson (Editor) November 21, 2012 at 02:56 AM
Hi Paul. Thanks for your concerns expressed here. Investigators have repeatedly told me tonight that buses are exempt from other vehicles at this intersection and are allowed to turn left at Marquez/Sunset. I have posted an update above from my latest phone call with LAPD. Please email me at matthew.sanderson@patch.com and I will be more than happy to go over my reporting on the accident and what I have so far from LAPD.
LJ November 21, 2012 at 04:31 AM
Hi Matthew, What investigators probably didnt mention is that those busses make a right and an immediate U-turn and frequently(as I have witnessed several times) dont even stop and continue on across sunset whether the light is red or green. Of course if no one witnessed this one it doesn't matter anyway. However, anyone who drives thru this area on a daily basis will tell you the same thing. To be fair to bus drivers, i also see motorcycles drive way, way too fast down this stretch as well so...
stewart resmer November 21, 2012 at 01:37 PM
The vehicle code forbids u-turns when ever other vehicles are approaching, and for good reason
Ted J November 21, 2012 at 05:30 PM
At the scene, detective Brent Johnson of LAPD's West Traffic Division said witnesses described the motorcycle heading west on Sunset at speeds upwards of 80 miles per hour. Later by phone, Sgt. Ben Zucker said more than one witness told investigators the motorcyclist ran a red light on Sunset. "The light for westbound Sunset was red," Zucker said. "The bus made a legal left hand turn and [other] cars stopped." Zucker said buses are allowed to make left hand turns at the intersection.
Glenn E Grab November 21, 2012 at 05:52 PM
the motorcyclist was observed be several people to be traveling at over 80 mph.....isn't that enough cause for determining who's at fault?....
Tiffany November 21, 2012 at 06:30 PM
Wow it is so sad that people talk as if the person killed wasn't a person ...... It was a life ... He had a mom & a dad & siblings & extended family & friends .... He was a person .... I don't know the road ... But if there is a debate at all it should be fixed (the laws) so it doesn't cost another person life .... So easy to talk as if the person isn't a person when u don't know them personally !!!!! If this crap has happened often then there is a problem !!!!! Fix it ....
A. G. November 21, 2012 at 09:00 PM
R.I.P. Patrick! Another angel has gone to heaven so young so tragic. Only 25 yrs old and embraced life and others so eaargerly. You will be truly missed.
A. G. November 21, 2012 at 09:00 PM
R.I.P. Patrick! Another angel has gone to heaven so young so tragic. Only 25 yrs old and embraced life and others so eaargerly. You will be truly missed.
Jonathan Ortega November 21, 2012 at 09:57 PM
Patrick (the victim) was my Co-Worker at Gladstones. This guy was fucking great!!! I can't believe such a great person is gone. The guy could've been having a shitty day, but that didn't keep him from releasing his great energy to everyone around him. I am glad I got to party with him and be able to soak up that great spirit of his
Jonathan Ortega November 21, 2012 at 10:03 PM
FACT: The light turned red. - Had the bus driver been waiting in the lane with the TRAFFIC LIGHT, he would easily have turned onto sunset. If anything he made he route longer by trying to shave a few seconds. What I speculate is that Patrick anticipated the bus to head west bound as well, not make that awkward left hand turn. Also to clarify and hopefully you can update, he is a native of West Virginia, not Van Nuys.
DeJay Mays November 22, 2012 at 06:00 AM
Me and Patrick grew up together! He is from Huntington, West Virginia... For those of you who don't know, that's also the "We Are...MARSHALL" town... He was one of the MOST POSITIVE people I had EVER knew. He was excited about life and I don't have NOT ONE memory of Pat EVER not smiling. The world truly lost an amazing person with so much love and Happyness to give to those who were fortunate enough to be blessed with his presence! R.I.P. Pat 2/11/87-11/20/2012 Love and miss you man
lahope November 22, 2012 at 03:15 PM
There are good reasons for speed limits. Anyone who travelling at excessive speeds as this young man apparently, unable to stop in a reasonable amount of time, puts himself and others in danger. He hit the bus, not the other way around. My heart goes out to the bus driver who is no doubt traumatized by the young man's death.
Rodney M. Sefaradi November 22, 2012 at 05:45 PM
Speed limit on Sunset blvd is 35 mph, not 80 mph(WRECKLESS DRIVING) Thats over double the speed limit. Slow down folks, whats the rush??
lqd zapplan November 22, 2012 at 10:06 PM
80 mph is NOT uncommon in a crotch rocket! I know as I have a motorcycle's license and have rode many bikes in the past...Speed kills in a car, let alone m/c...COME ON MAN...REALLY NEED MORE?
Karen November 23, 2012 at 01:14 AM
The area around Marquez have sharp corners and not a safe area for speeding.Need to slow down and respect each other on the road.
Heather Abbott November 29, 2012 at 04:04 AM
I still remember Patrick as a kid, sitting in Mrs. Bradshaw's 5th grade class,answering every question she asked. He was smart, strong-willed, and full of potential. He would never frown or watch anyone struggle with an assignment. He used to help me with my reports. -Heather Abbott
stephensgurl November 29, 2012 at 04:14 AM
im from huntington wv and the boy tht was killed went to high school with me and it is very sad
Glenn E Grab November 29, 2012 at 06:56 AM
motorcycles aren't like cars, you rarely get a second chance to make a bad mistake...

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