File photo

A sudden wipeout was almost the death of an electric scooter rider on Ocean Avenue when he fell off the device and rolled right in front of a Big Blue Bus June 13.  The bus driver swerved at the last minute, narrowly missing the man who had been riding in the bike lane without a helmet. The incident was captured on dashcam showing the pivotal moments.

The driver can be heard giving a sudden scream as she lurches the bus into the left-hand lane.

“I saw him, looked left and felt very grateful that it turned out the way it did. It feels great to know that I saved someone’s life,” bus driver Rochelle Beamon said when honored by City Manager Rick Cole with his weekly “Elaine” award. Each week, Cole honors a city employee in a widely distributed e-mail to his staff.

In the video, it is unclear whether the scooter rider intentionally or accidentally begins to swerve from right-to-left before losing control and falling into the street. The scooter was all black with a white band below the handlebar, traditional markings of a Bird Scooter.  The Daily Press could not confirm the brand.

Thanks to the quick reaction of the driver, the man was able to walk away without any injuries, according to Cole.

“Last week, the lightning-quick reaction of Rochelle Beamon prevented what likely would have been the nation’s first electric scooter road fatality,” Cole said. Cole said the incident illustrated the physically and mentally grueling aspects of motorcoach operating in Santa Monica.

Bus drivers have been meeting with leadership at the Big Blue Bus and their union to address major challenges faced by the BBB. The BBB experienced a 20 percent drop in ridership in 2016 and modest growth in 2017.

In response, Cole said Director Ed King if embarking on the “transformation of Blue.” This week, King held seven meetings with motorcoach operators spread over three days.  He will next meet with mechanics and other staff.

Kate Cagle

Senior reporter for the Santa Monica Daily Press