Bus Driver Charged in Crash That Killed Alaskan Mayor and Her Mother in DC

The mayor of Skagway, Alaska, Monica Adams Carlson, and her elderly mother were fatally struck near the National Mall

The tour bus driver who fatally struck an Alaskan mayor and her mother near the National Mall was answering his cellphone at the time of the crash, court documents reveal. 

The crash happened just before 10 p.m. Dec. 19 near the National Archives building at 700 Pennsylvania Avenue NW.

Gerard Derrick James, 45, of Baltimore was making a left turn onto Pennsylvania Avenue when his Eyre bus struck Monica Adams Carlson and her mother, 85-year-old Cora Louise Adams, as they were in the crosswalk.

James was arrested Thursday and charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter, police said. He pleaded not guilty during a court appearance Thursday. 

A surveillance camera on the bus showed James picking up a ringing phone and switching it between his hands at the exact moment the bus struck the women. The crash can be head on the recording. 

Carlson and Adams were in the crosswalk at the time and had the right-of-way. Both women were taken to the hospital, where they died of their injuries.

The mother and daughter were in D.C. to see the holiday decorations and loved visiting Washington, Carlson's brother-in-law, Steve Hites, told News4.

"Both of them were avid lovers of Washington, D.C. The nations capital was a placed they loved to visit," Hites said.

Carlson, 61, was the mayor of Skagway, Alaska, a town about 100 miles north of  Juneau with a population of about 1,100 people. Carlson was a write-in candidate who was elected to a 2-year term in 2017, according to the town's radio station KHNS-FM. 

"She leaves some very large shoes to fill in a very small town where we all watch after each other very closely," Hites said.

Carlson's mother was a resident of the lakeside town of Elbe in Washington state.

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Eyre Bus, Tour & Travel, the company that operates the tour bus, released a statement last week expressing their sympathy to the family. 

"We are cooperating fully with authorities in the investigation of this incident. Eyre places the safe transportation of our customers as well as those we share the road with as our number one priority." the statement went on to say. 

Police say the crash was similar to one in 2007 in which a Metrobus hit and killed two women in the same intersection. Metro settled a lawsuit with one of the victim's husbands for more than $2 million. DDOT added a left-turn lane and left-turn arrow to the intersection following the crash. 

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