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Family of man killed by city bus files lawsuit

David Birkenbach was hit and killed by a city bus in Columbia earlier this month, and now his family is suing the bus driver and the city.

On March 7, Birkenbach was in the middle of a crosswalk at the intersection of Stadium Boulevard and Monk Drive when a bus turning left hit him. According to police, Birkenbach was in the crosswalk legally.

Police say the bus driver, who was put on leave following the accident, failed to yield to Birkenbach. The driver, Hamis Mukiwa, is a temporary part-time employee of the city’s transit system.

On March 14, Birkenbach’s sisters and brother filed a wrongful death lawsuit, naming the City of Columbia and Hamis Mukiwa, the bus driver at the time, as defendants. The suit accuses Mukiwa of being negligent and careless while driving, and the city of being negligent in hiring Mukiwa and failing to properly supervise him.

ABC 17 News learned that earning both a license to drive a bus and the screening process for the job is a rigorous process and takes about two months. The city looks into driving and criminal records, and potential drivers must pass an intense health exam that examines not only eyesight, but blood pressure, mental health, and a number of other things as well.

The person who heads up the bus service, Drew Brooks says a lot of time is taken into ensuring that the drivers are qualified. “We tailor the whole process to the individuals so if they need a little bit more work than we are going to spend a lot of time with them and unfortunately some people kind of wash out of that process. It’s pretty rigorous and we want to make sure that they’re safe to drive a bus.”

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