Friday, May 16, 2008

Transit Bus Drive Assault Captured on Camera

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Transit Agency Assisting with Funeral Costs for Shooting Victim

By Jessie Halladay

TARC officials have agreed to help with the funeral expenses of a man killed after trying to break up a dispute on a bus Saturday night.

"It's the right thing to do and it's the helpful thing to do," said Barry Barker, executive director of the Transit Authority of River City.

Timothy D. Barbour died Saturday night after he was shot while getting off a bus at 10th Street and Broadway.

The shooting apparently occurred after Barbour, 26, and another man tried to intervene in a dispute between some men on the bus and some of the female passengers, said Lt. Barry Wilkerson, head of the Louisville Metro Police homicide unit. The second man was injured in the shooting.

Police arrested 22-year-old Apollo R. Avery, charging him with murder, first-degree assault and several counts of wanton endangerment.

Detectives were reviewing video taken on the bus.

Barker said he met with Barbour's family yesterday to share his condolences. He said the family expressed a need for assistance with the cost of the funeral and burial and TARC agreed to help.

"Our hearts really do go out to those folks," Barker said.

Shekita Barbour, Timothy's older sister, said she is relieved that TARC is helping to pay for the funeral because the family could not afford it.

"I didn't know what I was going to do," she said.

While the loss of her brother is devastating, she said she takes some comfort in knowing that he died trying to help someone else.

"He didn't have a choice but to step in," Barbour said. "He went out like a hero. Anyone with good morals would have helped."

TARC officials are going over their policies to see if there is anything that could be done to improve safety.

Barker said TARC emphasizes safety, using video surveillance and having uniformed and nonuniformed security officers on buses.

Earlier in the evening, an off-duty police officer was working security on the bus where the incident occurred, Barker said.

"We're going to continue to see what we can do better," he said.

Reporter Jessie Halladay can be reached at (502) 582-4081.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Assault victim sues city over C-Train safety

Joel Kom, Calgary Herald
Published: Wednesday, April 30, 2008
A man whose violent beating near a C-Train station left him with short-term memory loss and a broken eye socket is suing the City of Calgary for more than $150,000, saying it failed in its duty to keep the transit system safe.

Kyle McAllister, now 19, went with a female friend to the Canyon Meadows C-Train station to pick up her brother early on New Year's Day 2007.

McAllister was walking along the pedestrian overpass when a man started pushing him.

"He swung at me and we started fighting," said McAllister. "I was holding my own."

One of the stranger's friends broke up the fight -- then sucker-punched McAllister.

Around eight people were soon kicking and punching him, knocking him unconscious. "Another kick probably would have killed me," said Tuesday.

McAllister missed work as a driller for nine days and wasn't the same when he went back, he said. He writes things down to remember them because his memory has suffered.

McAllister is suing the city because, he says, it didn't live up to its end of the transit bargain for New Year's.

"The interpretation from the city was that it would be free and it would be safe," he said. "It was free. It wasn't safe."

He's seeking $4,602.73 in expenses and lost income, $150,000 in damages and an unspecified amount for future expenses. None of the accusations have been proven in court.

He denied the lawsuit is a cash grab -- adding legal fees are eating up much of his money.

"We're trying to make a difference here," he said.

"Hopefully, they can set up some security."

McAllister said the city didn't warn anybody about safety risks at the stations and failed to have security at Canyon Meadows on the night of the attack.

City staff denies all liability, saying it does all it can to keep the system safe.

"We believe it was made as safe as possible," said city lawyer Colleen Sinclair. "There's no way the city can prevent all crime on the C-Train system."

It was video surveillance that helped nab some of those who attacked McAllister, she added.

One person was convicted of aggravated assault and sentenced to 18 months in jail, McAllister said. Another was acquitted of robbery, while a third's trial is scheduled for September.

C-Train safety has been an issue recently, particularly after Arcelie Laoagan was found dead near the Franklin station after taking the C-Train home from downtown in January.

No court date has been set for McAllister's lawsuit.

Caltrain wants cameras, seeks to reduce deaths

Caltrain has invested millions of dollars in fences, educational videos, ad campaigns and even suicide-prevention walks to stop people from being killed on its tracks.

Nothing seems to work.

Now the commuter rail line is turning to the latest in video technology - cameras mounted on the front and back of trains - to learn how and why people die on the tracks.

Caltrain's board of directors today is expected to ask the state for a half-million dollars in homeland security funds to install the cameras on all 30 trains on the San Francisco-to-Gilroy line.

The cameras would record suicides - which represent more than half of the fatalities each year - and other deaths in the same way police cameras record arrests for drunken driving. The 24-hour cameras would have the added benefit of recording the movements of anyone tampering with the trains or the tracks.

The digital set of eyes on the front of a speeding Caltrain wouldn't directly prevent collisions with pedestrians any more than an engineer's human eyes. But they would document how the deaths occur in a way the railroad has never seen before.

That information could aid death investigations, identify trespassers and even pinpoint weak links in Caltrain's network of fences. And transit officials hope that the mere presence of cameras will cut down on pedestrians and drivers trying to sneak around the crossing gates.

Caltrain has been trying for years to stanch the bloodshed on its tracks, without much success. This year, six people have been killed. Three are confirmed suicides.

Caltrain's deadliest year was 1995, when 20 people died. Since then, the figure has varied from five to 18.

"There is no pattern," Caltrain spokeswoman Christine Dunn said. "There is no trend."

The camera trend, however, is quickly building steam.

Amtrak's Capitol Corridor, which connects San Jose to Sacramento, got $600,000 earlier this week for a similar system. The money comes from a $20 billion transportation bond package that California voters approved as Proposition 1B in 2006. Caltrain's funding request is expected to be approved and the cameras installed next year.

Jay Alan, spokesman for the state homeland security office, said the front-mounted cameras are part of several agencies' wish lists across California.

"It's a technology that has been improving," he said. "I think it's something that a lot of intercity and Amtrak-related trains have been moving toward in other parts of the country as well as in California."

Tom Kelleher, a spokesman for North County Transit District in San Diego County, said cameras pointed inside and outside its buses have proved popular with riders concerned with safety since they were installed in the late '90s. When the agency recently opened its 22-mile light-rail line between Oceanside and Escondido, it made sure the trains also had them.

Some rail lines, including BART, have long had cameras inside their cars to monitor activity and solve crimes. But Caltrain, which does not have such interior cameras, is most concerned with what's happening outside the trains, Dunn said.

Unlike BART, Caltrain's tracks are mostly exposed and at street level, making it easy for people to place themselves in a train's path.

The frustration with the problem is evident.

"Anything we can do to reduce the number of idiots from running in front of the train or driving around the gates, we are going to do," said Arthur Lloyd, a retired Amtrak executive who sits on Caltrain's board.

Capitol Corridor officials also see the cameras as a way to collect data on how collisions happen, spokeswoman Luna Salaver said.

"If it's a situation where perhaps someone is listening to their iPod or they're on a PDA, the camera would catch that," she said. "Then we would know what we needed to work on as far as public education."

Beyond that, Salaver added, the cameras could help quickly resolve some of the toughest questions that arise in the wake of a pedestrian fatality.

"Often the first questions reporters ask are: Was it intentional? Was the person trying to beat the train, or not paying attention? Or was it suicide?

"Now," she said, "we'll be able to reconstruct that situation."

Denise Tyrrell, a spokesman for Metrolink in Southern California, said most new locomotives are coming off the assembly line with cameras as a standard option. The agency just got its first such locomotive this week, she said. The transit agencies plan to use $380,000 in Proposition 1B money to install cameras on its 38 other locomotives.

In a typical tragedy, there will be several eyewitnesses with different stories, she said. "And all will be adamant that their version is the truth," she said.

"Now everyone involved in an accident can be reassured exactly what happened," she said.

The cameras will not only help the agency fend off frivolous lawsuits but help bring closure to family members as well, she said.

A death in August on the Caltrain tracks helps illustrate that point. A San Mateo man named Chuck Fox had reportedly been drinking with friends near the Hayward Park station in that city when he got up and placed himself in a train's path.

After he was killed, signs pointed to suicide, but at least one of his close friends insisted it was an accident.

"I'm sure that in a situation like that," Dunn said, "the video evidence would be an important tool in the investigation."

Contact Ken McLaughlin at or (408) 920-5552