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SF Muni operator dies two weeks after bus crash on Lombard Street

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A Muni bus crashed into a building on Lombard Street on Sept. 10. (Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez/S.F. Examiner)

A Muni operator hailed for his safe driving has died following a dramatic crash on Lombard Street in early September.

Milton James, a Muni operator of 31 years, died Sept. 24 at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, according to hospital spokesperson Maricella Miranda.

James was driving a 28-19th Avenue Muni bus that hit a median and careened into a tree on Lombard Street between Scott and Pierce Streets in the Marina District at about 5:40 a.m. on Sept. 10.

Minor injuries were reported in the crash save for James, who was taken to general hospital in critical condition. Witnesses at the scene that day said they believed James suffered a medical incident, but the San Francisco Examiner was not able to confirm this with officials.

Sarita Britt, former deputy director of transit with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, said she had seen James at many ceremonies honoring safe drivers and was saddened to hear of his death.

“He was a safe driver for years,” Britt said. “He was always quiet, but very good.”

Milton James (Courtesy Photo)

The San Francisco Police Department is investigating the incident, but have yet to announce the cause of the crash. Dashboard video from a nearby driver, which was first obtained by KTVU news, showed the bus veering into oncoming traffic before hitting a tree and a nearby dry cleaning service.

The SFMTA and SFPD were unavailable for comment Monday due to the holiday.

James is an award-winning Muni operator, who had been crowned operator-of-the-month and for his record as one of Muni’s safest drivers, driving 31 years before the crash without a “chargeable incident,” according to an internal SFMTA staffwide memo sent September 12 about James, which was obtained by the Examiner.

Details about James are scant, as the family has asked for privacy from James’ coworkers and the SFMTA, according to the internal SFMTA memo.

Roger Marenco, president of th Transport Workers Union Local 250-A, which represents Muni operators, said all drivers were affected by the loss of James.

“On behalf of TWU Local 250-A we extend our deepest condolences to our brother Milton James,” he said. “I wish the best for his family.”

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