Victim's family sues Columbia for wrongful death in bus accident

4 years 6 months 5 days ago Thursday, March 17 2016 Mar 17, 2016 Thursday, March 17, 2016 3:36:00 PM CDT March 17, 2016 in News
By: Matt Johnson, KOMU 8 Content Manager

COLUMBIA - The family of the victim killed in an accident involving a city bus has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the driver of the bus and the city of Columbia.

Jane Birkenbach filed the suit in Boone County Court earlier this week. Her brother, David died March 7 when police said 22-year-old Hamis Mukiwah, a part-time city employee, ran a yellow light and hit Birkenbach while he was legally walking in the crosswalk at the intersection of Stadium Boulevard and Monk Drive. Birkenbach was an employee at the nearby Harry S. Truman Veterans' Hospital. 

Shortly after the accident, the city admitted fault.

The suit seeks monetary losses endured by the victim's surviving family including payment of funeral expenses, lost income and other damages. The suit alleges the city "failed to hire competent, satisfactory, safety-conscious employees" to drive city transit buses and calls the driver and the city's actions "negligent."

In a statement at the time, City Manager Mike Matthes said, "On behalf of the City of Columbia, we wish to express our heartfelt condolences to the family of the individual." He added, "We are working with the agencies investigating this tragic incident."

The city's legal department said Thursday it could not comment on pending litigation. The Columbia Police Department said it had no updates on the case and the city prosecutor had yet to file criminal charges against Mukiwah. 

[Editor's note: This story has been updated to include additional information from the lawsuit.]

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