Family of woman run over by bus sues CTA

February 10, 2008 8:05:38 PM PST
The family of a woman killed when a bus ran over her is suing the transit agency.The incident happened on New Year's Eve and caught on tape by a bus surveillance camera.

The lawyer for Ludwika Szynalik says the vide tape tells the whole story. The 59-year-old woman was doing something she did every day: exit a bus and then take her bike off of a CTA bus bike rack. But on New Year's Eve, that action cost Szynalik her life.

Ludwika Szynalik's mode of transportation to and from housekeeping jobs was her bike and a bus. Everyday, the Polish immigrant rode her bike and caught the 152 Addison street bus home.

"She used her bike throughout the year. The CTA wanted people to use their bikes 365 days a year. That's why they have the bike racks on," said Timothy Cavanagh, the attorney representing the victim.

At approximately 2:15 p.m. December 31, Szynalik is seen on CTA surveillance tape putting her bike on the rack in front of the bus and boarding. Video captures her sitting on the bus for several minutes before she gets her to stop at Addison and Neenah. Szynallik then exits the bus.

"As she comes around the bus, she is doing what she is supposed to be doing, but the driver was not doing his job. He was not paying attention," Cavanagh said.

What the attorney says the CTA bus driver failed to do was watch and wait for Szynalik to get her bike off the rack. Instead, the driver drove off, running Sznalik over and dragging her 80 feet before he realized what had happened.

"So clearly, this driver not paying attention to where he should have been. He was not doing his job and cost the Ludwika her life," said Cavanagh.

The woman died several hours later at a hospital. Her family is now suing the CTA.

"The purpose of why we are doing this is tomake sure that no other family has to go through what our family has been for over a month. Other families won't have to go through this," said Mark Jarosz, the victim's cousin.

"My mother was a wonderful woman who gave so much to her family and her community," said Paul Lupa, the victim's son.

The CTA is calling the incident a very unfortunate accident. The driver has been suspended without pay. At the time of the accident, he was given two traffic citations.

According to CTA policy, when a rider takes a bike on a bus, he or she is supposed to inform the driver when exiting that he or she will be removing a bike. It is unclear whether Ludwika Szynalik did that.