Motorist Dies, 8 Hurt as Car Hits Bus Head-On

Times Staff Writer

A North Hollywood man was killed Thursday when his small foreign car crashed head-on into a Southern California Rapid Transit District bus with 22 people aboard.

Seven passengers and the bus driver were injured, none seriously, in the collision that occurred about noon on Victory Boulevard near White Oak Avenue in Reseda, authorities said. The dead man was identified as Nicholas Diaz, 42.

The car, a 1977 Toyota, was westbound on Victory when it suddenly swerved and crossed the center divider and three traffic lanes, slamming into the eastbound bus, said Los Angeles Police Sgt. Ron Barnes. The bus skidded about 135 feet and hit two trees before it came to rest on the sidewalk, police said. It dragged the car, which split in half, about 55 feet, Barnes said.

Diaz, who was pronounced dead at the scene, was alone in this car, police said. The seven injured passengers were treated at several area hospitals and released, four of them at the Medical Center of Tarzana. Their names were not available.


The accident occurred on bus Route 164, which serves Victory Boulevard between Universal City and the Ventura County line.

RTD spokeswoman Usha Viswanathan identified the bus driver as Sara Vaillancourt, 32, of Moorpark, who has been with the transit company six years. Vaillancourt was treated for shock at Rancho Encino Hospital but was back at the RTD office by 4 p.m., the RTD spokeswoman said.

One passenger interviewed at the scene, Lisa Zamora, 17, of North Hollywood, said the driver’s actions probably avoided further injury to passengers.

“Everyone panicked after it happened,” Zamora said. “People were screaming. Everybody was trying to get out the back door of the bus at the same time. The driver calmed everybody down. She handed us forms to fill out. She told us everything was going to be all right.”


Zamora said the most seriously injured passenger appeared to be a young woman with a broken nose. People on the bus were thrown forward after the driver hit the brakes, she said.

The police spokesman said it was not immediately known what caused the accident.

A coroner’s autopsy will be conducted, police said.