Victim's family: Why was DDOT driver still on the job after 19 crashes, another fatality?

A Detroit Department of Transportation driver racked up 19 crashes on the job, including 2 fatalities, during her 26-year tenure as a bus driver. 

She has also received several write-ups for reckless driving.

"It's mind-blowing," said Attorney Heather Atnip, representing one of the victims killed by bus driver Geraldine Johnson. "She should've been removed from operating the bus – if not prior to the first time that she killed somebody, certainly after that."

An ongoing lawsuit is revealing Johnson's concerning driving history. 

Johnson was fired by DDOT after fatally running over 67-year-old Janice Bauer of Grosse Pointe Park, as she crossed the street with a walk signal in Downtown Detroit, during the summer of 2023.

Bauer was run over by both sets of tires, as Johnson accelerated upon impact, according to bus data.

Bauer was reportedly still conscious and breathing, according to a 9-1-1 log. However, Johnson did not get out of the bus to check.

In 2015, Johnson also hit and killed a passenger, Joey Davis, as he left the bus to get his bike off the rack in the front. 

"At first. …you would think it's just a distracted bus driver, but our investigation has revealed it's way deeper than that," Atnip said. "I am concerned that there may be other bus drivers on the road right now, similarly situated, and there may be future victims."

Caught on video in the bus, Johnson was seen and heard screaming as she remained behind the wheel during both fatal crashes.

After the 2015 incident, personnel records show that Johnson took about two years off on medical, per the contract through Amalgamated Transit Union. According to a clause in the contract, an employee off the job for 18 months or more cannot be disciplined and their record is wiped clean.

Johnson requested to be taken to the hospital after hitting Bauer.

Even Detroit police officers at that scene of the 2023 incident knew Johnson by name.

"(It's) Ms. Johnson, again," one officer can be heard saying on the body camera. "You know how many times she hit somebody and kill somebody?"

While the city and mayor’s office are not commenting on the civil suit Atnip is filing.

However, Deputy Mayor Todd Bettison, said, "the fact that existing policies were not able to prevent this driver's second fatal crash is a serious concern for the mayor, and we are exploring potential changes to better prevent such accidents in the future."

The loss for the Bauer family is unimaginable, especially for one of her siblings who is disabled.

"She was the primary caregiver and social companion. They were best friends, and so there's been a great loss to the family," Atnip said.

Johnson has a pretrial hearing scheduled on Monday at the 36th District Court.


Attorney: 'Absolute failure' DDOT bus driver allowed to keep job after 1st fatal pedestrian crash

"It’s absolutely unacceptable, it should not be tolerated, and this should have been prevented," said Harrington, of Fieger Law. "She should have been taken off the road after the Joey Davis incident, had the city done its job."