Bus driver who fatally struck cyclist possibly impaired

Written by Andrew T

February 26, 2019

A Capital Metro bus driver who struck and killed a cyclist on the University of Texas campus last month was driving erratically and might have been impaired at the time of the crash.

According to a search warrant filed in court on Feb. 15, the driver, 40-year-old Mindi Taylor Stafford, failed part of a field sobriety test after the crash and authorities found four prescription medications in her backpack. Each of the drugs — baclofen, a muscle relaxant; gabapentin, a pain reliever and seizure medication; promethazine, an antihistamine often used to treat nausea; and hydroxyzine, an antihistamine that can be used to treat anxiety and nausea — listed dizziness and drowsiness as possible side effects.

The warrant, which is for Stafford’s cellphone, says the drugs were prescribed to her. She has not been charged with a crime, according to the University of Texas Police Department.

Officers were called at 10:36 p.m. Jan. 28 to the crash on northbound San Jacinto Boulevard that killed 39-year-old Anthony John Diaz

Video and audio recordings taken from the bus show Stafford drifted into angled parking spaces along San Jacinto before the collision near 22nd Street. Passengers yelled for Stafford to watch out for the bicycle before the crash but, the warrant says, videos show “Stafford appeared to be oblivious to her surroundings. She did not appear to react to her passengers’ warnings and did not notice the illuminated bicycle riding in front of her.”

Diaz was wearing a reflective helmet at the time of the crash, had lights on his bike and was riding as close to the curb as possible, investigators said. The road was also dry and illuminated by the lights of the nearby Royal-Memorial Stadium.

The driver reacted slowly, court documents say. “The bus’s on-board accelerometer shows Stafford did not apply the brakes until after impact,” according to the warrant. “She finally applied the brakes and brought the bus to a stop approximately 110 feet after the point of impact.”

Diaz was dragged under the bus and pronounced dead at the scene. Diaz worked in operations for FOX 7 News in Austin.

A detective who searched the driver’s backpack and found the medications said they could have an intensified effect when taken together, according to the documents. The warrant says university police want Stafford’s phone to see if she had “discussed her physical and medical condition before the collision.”

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