Driver not charged in deadly bus accident
MIDDLEBURY —Addison County State’s Attorney David R. Fenster confirmed on Friday that he will not prosecute the driver of an Addison County Transit Resources (ACTR) bus that struck and fatally injured a Washington, D.C., resident in downtown Middlebury on Aug. 10.
Michael Rizner, 54, of Middlebury was driving the ACTR bus at the time of the accident, during which Ann Curtis Odom, 75, was struck as she was walking through the intersection of Merchants Row and Main Street. Odom sustained severe traumatic injuries as a result of the collision. Main Street merchants and passersby did their best to tend to her injuries while Middlebury Volunteer Ambulance Association officials hurried to the scene.
Odom died of her injuries on Aug. 25 at Fletcher Allen Health Care.
ACTR placed Rizner on paid administrative leave pending completion of a Middlebury police investigation of the incident.
Police submitted their report to Fenster after Odom’s death. Fenster last week said he determined the circumstances of the case did not rise to the level of warranting prosecution.
“The investigation demonstrated that there were no drugs or alcohol involved in the collision and that there was no basis to conclude that Mr. Rizner operated the bus in a criminally negligent manner,” Fenster said in a written statement provided to the Addison Independent.
“It was an unfortunate, tragic accident,” said Middlebury police Sgt. Michael Christopher.
James Moulton, executive director of ACTR, agreed with Christopher.
“This will always be a tragedy that will stay in our minds,” Moulton said. “We don’t want to see anything like this happen again.”
If there is anything redeeming come out of the incident, according to Moulton, it’s that the tragedy has prompted ACTR to fully re-examine its safety protocols. The organization has invested in additional training and is looking at the design of its buses to see if any changes can be made to increase the safety for drivers, passengers and pedestrians.
Meanwhile, Rizner is back driving for ACTR after having received counseling, additional training, an on-the-road evaluation, and confirmation that he would not face prosecution.
“We felt is was appropriate at this time to have him go back on the road,” Moulton said.
Efforts to reach some of Mrs. Odom’s family members residing in Lincoln were unsuccessful as the Addison Independent went to press on Friday.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].
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