Central Texas woman charged in deadly bus-bicycle crash

Mindi Taylor Stafford. (Jail photo)
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KILLEEN, Texas (KWTX) Former Capital Metro bus driver Mindi Taylor Stafford, 40, of Killeen, was in the Bell County Jail Wednesday afternoon charged with manslaughter in connection with a accident in January in which the bus she was driving hit and killed a bicyclist near the University of Texas campus in Austin.

Stafford was arrested earlier Wednesday on a warrant issued Tuesday.

Her bond is set at $80,000.

Anthony John Diaz died after the Capital Metro bus Stafford was driving struck him at around 10:30 p.m. on Jan. 28 as he rode his bicycle across empty diagonal parking spaces close to the east curb of San Jacinto Boulevard near the UT campus, an arrest warrant affidavit says.

He was wearing a reflective helmet and the bicycle had front and rear lights, the affidavit says.

“As the bus approached from behind the bicyclist, it drifted out of its lane of travel,” the affidavit says, and “struck the bicycle with the front bumper.”

Diaz was pulled under the bus, the affidavit says.

Video from a camera mounted inside the bus shows a passenger shouting “Whoa! Whoa! Stop the bus!” moments before the collision, the affidavit says.

Stafford did not “appear to react to Diaz being directly in front of the bus despite the warnings shouted by several passengers,” the affidavit says, and did not appear to “turn the steering wheel, apply the brakes or take any preventative action to avoid the collision.”

“Once the brakes were applied, the bus traveled approximately 110 additional feet after the point of impact on the east curb line,” the affidavit says.

Stafford failed to maintain a single lane of travel, drove across empty parking spaces, didn’t maintain “an assured clear distance between the bus and Diaz,” “failed to keep a proper lookout for others,” and “did not take any corrective action to avoid the collision,” the affidavit says.

Stafford told investigators she was looking to the left at a car that was “moving over a bit, because you don’t expect the bikers to enter in your lane and that’s when he came into view and I couldn’t stop the bus.”

“Well he should have been closer to the curb,” she told investigators according to the affidavit.

“The bikes have bike lanes.”

Capital Metro issued a statement Wednesday in which it said Stafford is no longer employed at Travis Transit.

"Capital Metro was made aware of the arrest and continues to cooperate with law enforcement in their investigation of the January 28 crash. Our thoughts remain with the family and loved ones of Tony Diaz."