Driver dies in METRO bus crash

Cause is under investigation

By Jennifer Bauer - Reporter

HOUSTON - The inbound Gulf Freeway feeder road was shut down for several hours Tuesday night while investigators tried to determine what caused a fatal METRO bus crash.

The chief of police for METRO told Local 2 that the driver was the only person on board the bus and that he died in the accident. 

The bus was out of service and was headed back to the bus barn when the accident happened.  It slammed into the cement pole holding up the freeway sign for Park Place and Broadway boulevards. 

People who were eating dinner at a nearby restaurant said they heard it and ran to help.

"We went out to see if the person inside was OK. We had to call 911," said Frank Galvan.  Galvan said witnesses used a rock to break a window so they could get on board the bus and check on the driver. 

"I asked if he was coherent," Galvan said.  "There was no response. All I could do was offer prayer."

METRO officials said bus operator James Brookes lost control of the vehicle and crashed into the concrete traffic sign. A witness said that a vehicle made a right turn in front of another vehicle that was ahead of the bus. Brooks reportedly swerved to avoid rear-ending the vehicle and lost control of the bus. No other vehicles were involved in the crash.

Brooks had been with METRO since 1983.

"While spending time with James' colleagues at the Polk Facility this morning it became very clear that he was loved and respected. He would always try to make people smile. He cared deeply about his own family and his METRO family," said METRO President & CEO George Greanias.

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