Family of MTA driver killed in downtown L.A. crash files lawsuit

Justin Anderson pays respects and light candles at a makeshift memorial for MTA bus driver Olivia Gamboa in downtown Los Angeles.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

The family of a longtime MTA driver killed when a tow truck plowed through a red light and into her bus is suing the estate of the other driver, the towing company and the bus manufacturer.

The lawsuit filed this week in Los Angeles County Superior Court alleges the tow truck driver was negligent when he sped through the intersection of 5th Street and Broadway at 60 mph, slamming into a Metro Line 18 bus that Olivia Gamboa, 47, was driving.

The document claims the restraint systems in the bus failed to work properly. Gamboa was ejected from the bus, despite wearing her seat belt, it says.


Neither New Flyer Industries, which made the bus, nor Hermosa Beach Towing could immediately be reached for comment. Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokesman Paul Gonzales said the agency does not talk about pending litigation.

The early morning crash, which occurred just after the start of Gamboa’s shift June 12, ripped open the front of the bus and sheared off a fire hydrant. The truck, authorities said at the time, careened into a nearby 7-Eleven, decimating the store’s facade.

The bus was not carrying any passengers at the time.

Gamboa died at a nearby hospital a short time later. The tow truck driver, Yousef Adhami, of Long Beach, was hospitalized in critical condition. The 44-year-old died Aug. 21 from the traumatic injuries he suffered, according to the Los Angeles County Coroner’s office.

Friends and family members described Gamboa, a 13-year MTA veteran who preferred to drive her downtown Los Angeles route in the early morning hours so she could care for her grandson later in the day, as a devout Catholic and a dedicated mom.

Her husband, Bernardo Gamboa, said Tuesday that he was nervous to return to work next week. He -- along with one of the couple’s three daughters -- also works for MTA.


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Twitter: @jillcowan