CHICAGO (CBS) — A CTA bus driver has been ticketed for running a red light Tuesday evening before striking two pedestrians and several cars downtown, killing a 51-year-old woman, and injuring at least eight other people.

Police said the driver, 48-year-old Donald Barnes, was issued a citation failing to stop at a red light, and another for failure to exercise due care.

Shortly before 6 p.m. Tuesday, the No. 148 Clarendon/Michigan Express bus was traveling east on Lake Street, and stopped at Michigan Avenue, but then blew through a red light, according to police. The bus hit two pedestrians and several vehicles before jumping the curb, and coming to a stop on the sidewalk at the northeast corner of Lake and Michigan.

CTA spokesman Brian Steele said that the transit agency hired Barnes last Sept. 2, attended five weeks of training and has been driving a bus since March. Steele said the 148/Clarendon-Michigan Express was his last run of the day. He worked a split shift driving one route (22/Clark) in the morning and two others to the north and northwest sides (152/Addison and 153/Clarendon-LaSalle Express) Tuesday afternoon before the fatal run, which was en route to its first stop.

Barnes was alone aboard the bus at the time. He has been interviewed by police and CTA officials, and has been placed on leave. Steele said there were no obvious signs of drug or alcohol abuse, and said blood samples were taken.

Aimee Coath, 51, was pinned under the bus. She died after she was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Coath’s family and friends in south suburban Flossmoor were left stunned.

“It’s a shock, for one thing. You just don’t expect things like this to happen to people you know. You hear about them in the news all the time, but it just … I mean, it’s going to take a while for it to sink in, obviously,” neighbor Rob Carrier said.

Flossmoor village trustee Jim Mitros has known Coath for decades.

“She was a wonderful person. She always had a smile and a nice greeting whenever you would run into her,” he said. “We had, I guess, common memories, because of our children growing up together, and she was always involved in the community, so she’ll be sorely missed.”

Former Flossmoor Mayor Roger Molski said it’s especially shocking when such news hits so close to home.

Molski said he saw Coath just hours before she was killed, while he was walking his dog, when she stopped to wave to him. He called her an eternal optimist with a joyful demeanor.

Coath loved working at The Gap, and Molski said she never once complained about her job.

Coath’s daughter is a lawyer in Washington, D.C., who was flying to Chicago to deal with the sudden death of her mother.
Eight other people were injured, including the bus driver. Police said none of those injuries appeared to be life-threatening.

The bus was not carrying any passengers.

The CTA said the 48-year-old driver has been with the agency for less than a year.

The police Major Accident Investigation Unit was investigating the crash. The CTA said it was pulling video from surveillance cameras on the bus, but the cameras focus on the interior of the bus, so it’s unclear what the footage will show.

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