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DART Releases Video From Inside Paratransit Van During Wreck

By Matt Goodman, CBSDFW.com
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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Hours after the DART paratransit van driver who caused a five-car pileup last month on the Dallas North Tollway was fired, transit officials released video footage from inside the van.

The video includes a pair of viewpoints –– one of the driver as he cruised along, the other of what he saw straight ahead of him before and during the crash.

The June 29 wreck sent two people to the hospital and shut down the southbound lanes for hours.

When it announced the firing, Veolia Transportation –– the company Dallas Area Rapid Transit contracts to drive about 200 paratransit vehicles –– said “there is no evidence at this time of any violation of Veolia cell phone policies or drug or alcohol use.”

Sure enough, the driver isn’t using his cell phone; he’s just staring forward, showing little emotion until he plows into a line of vehicles in the exit lane to Interstate 35.

It’s just as alarming as the previous video, which was released by the Texas Department of Transportation and showed the driver didn’t so much as tap his brakes before the crash.

DART authorities aren’t commenting on the incident or any training requirements required of the more than 300 contract drivers who operate the paratransit vans.

The driver, who was not identified, worked for Veolia for 11 years and had a “good safety record,” the release says.

“Veoilia Transportation’s thoughts are with those who were injured in this accident,” the release reads. “We are grateful that they will recover, while recognizing that some recoveries can be long and difficult. We hope for all of them a rapid return to the normalcy of daily life.”

Last week, reporter Jay Gormley spoke to one of the victims of the crash, Oak Cliff resident Jose Sepulveda. Quoting from that story:

Sepulveda was sitting in his car on the ramp to merge on to Interstate-35. That’s when a DART paratransit van, heading south on the Tollway, suddenly slammed into his car. The impact launched his vehicle into the car in front of him.

The father of two children has since undergone surgery and is still at Parkland Hospital. He did, however, share his near-death experience with his family. “All he remembers is looking at the mirror and he saw the DART bus coming and it never slowed down,” said Jose’s nephew, Christian Sepulveda. “He thought it was going to switch lanes, but it didn’t. So he just closed his eyes and that’s the last thing he remembers,” the young nephew added.

Jose Sepulveda suffered broken ribs, a broken arm, and a shattered hip and pelvic bone. His mother said that she is upset with the driver of the DART van, because she is convinced that he was not paying attention. “He never stopped. He never looked to the front. He never saw all the cars stopped,” explained Rosa. “I can’t believe how lucky he was.”

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