LONG BEACH (CBSLA.com) — A Torrance Transit bus driver won’t serve any time behind bars for striking and killing an 86-year-old pedestrian two years ago in Long Beach.
Superior Court Judge James Pierce found Sevell Benson guilty of the crime, but without gross negligence, making it a misdemeanor.
“You committed an act of negligence that day. Should you have seen him sooner and should you have come to a stop before and did you have the ability to do so? Yes,” Pierce said.
On July 6, 2012, Benson was driving southbound on Pacific Avenue when he hit David Miao, who was walking a few feet behind his wife.
Miao’s widow, who didn’t want to be photographed, said she heard the bus honking and then saw her husband’s head hit the curb.
Miao, who was an engineer for Boeing for 35 years and worked on the space shuttle program, died from his head injuries a few hours later.
“Of course I miss him a lot. Every month I go to the cemetery…he liked Coke, I bring him Coke,” the victim’s wife said.
The judge gave Benson 120 days of community service. He must work in a hospital, emergency room, a morgue, or a hospice service.
“If I had put you in [county jail] today for a year…you’d probably be released in 10 days or 30 days max,” Pierce said.
Benson spoke to KCAL9’s Dave Lopez about his punishment.
“I feel blessed that I’m not going to jail. I saw [Miao], but I didn’t see him at the distance the prosecutor says,” he said, adding that he tried to stop.