A Berkeley woman died in a collision between her sedan and an AC Transit bus on Ashby Avenue on Feb. 8, 2018. The 27-year-old had just left home bound for work when the accident occurred. She becomes one of the more than 300 people who die each year in bus crashes in the United States.
Officials are still investigating the incident to determine how the crash happened, while family and friends gathered in the victim’s honor on Feb. 15, 2018. Unfortunately, fatal crashes involving buses are all too common.
Reports Unclear on How Berkeley Bus Crash Occurred
Twenty-seven year-old Kelli Zachery was driving a red Honda Civic at about 6:30 a.m. when the crash occurred. She was traveling southbound on California Street, while an AC Transit line 80 bus was traveling westbound on Ashley Street. Officials say there were two people onboard the bus: The driver and a single passenger.
The bus hit Zachery’s Honda on the driver’s side, according to Sgt. Andrew Frankel, a spokesperson with the Berkeley Police Department. The impact of the collision then forced the bus and Honda into a nearby parked car before sending them careening into a nearby house.
Zachery was killed in the crash and pronounced dead at the scene, but both people on the AC Transit bus were uninjured. Residents inside the home that was hit during the crash also escaped without harm, though a structural engineer was dispatched to the house to determine if it was safe for occupancy.
Dale Reynolds is one of the residents of the home that was struck. He said he was inside with his wife when the couple heard several loud crashes in a row. Reynolds told Berkeleyside that he thinks the bus hit Zachery’s Honda and that the two then crashed into Reynolds’ truck before hitting his home and the home of a neighbor. Reynolds also said in the interview that the front porch and door of his home sustained damage and that he and his wife fled through the back door.
A separate report from CBS SF Bay Area says that the Honda struck the bus. Furthermore, the report states that there was no stop sign along Ashley Street, where the bus traveled, but that there was one on California Street, where Zachery was driving.
There have been no statements as to the possibility of equipment failure or other potential issues with the bus.
Father of Victim One of First to Arrive on Scene
Kelli Zachery’s father, Kelvin Zachery, was listening to the news at home when he heard about the Berkeley bus crash, and the details caught his attention.
“I just had a real gut feeling from the description of the vehicle, especially the color,” Zachery told KPIX 5.
Zachery knew his daughter had just departed for work, and once he heard the vehicle description, he drove the mile from his home to the scene of the accident. He was one of the first people to arrive.
“It was just a tragic loss for me and my family,” Zachery said. “I’m just putting everything in God’s hands right now. This is the saddest day of my life.”
Zachery also expressed concern for the driver of the AC Transit bus, having been an AC Transit bus driver for 26 years.
“Anytime there’s any accident involving AC Transit, I feel for my brothers and sisters out there,” Zachery explained. Please post in slightly larger font
AC Transit Releases Statement on Berkeley Bus Crash
The same day as the Berkeley bus crash, AC Transit issued a statement on the accident that also mentioned the investigation and the driver, who cannot legally be identified at this time.
The Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District (AC Transit) wishes to extend our deepest condolences to the family of the driver involved in today’s tragic event. We will continue to work closely with the Berkeley Police Department as they investigate the circumstances of this collision. Please direct questions related the police investigation to the public information office of the Berkeley Police Department.
Deceased Was “Sweet Person” Who Dreamed of Being a Nurse
Kelli Zachery’s friends and family gathered on February 15, 2018, to celebrate her life and share memories of the woman they described as someone who brought joy to all those around her.
The large group of more than 70 people met at Kelli’s father’s home before walking to a neighborhood park where they lit candles. Kelvin Zachery told gatherers that Kelli had passed away at 6:28 a.m. when the crash occurred, and that, in her memory, he and Kelli’s mother would set loose a collection of pink balloons into the sky at exactly 6:28 p.m. He asked that each year those who loved Kelli remember her on that day and that time.
Kelli Zachery attended Heald College, where she received an associate’s degree in medical assisting. It was a stepping stone on her path to nursing, which her father says was her dream. In the meantime, Kelli was working at an IRS customer service center and attending college to meet the final few admission requirements for the Samuel Merritt Nursing Program.