Bus crashes into Idaho Power building in Downtown Boise

January 6, 2014 

A ValleyRide bus crashed into the Idaho Power building in Downtown Boise Monday morning after an apparent mechanical failure, leaving a path of destruction that included downed trees and light poles. One female passenger who had a pre-existing injury was taken to the hospital for treatment, officials said.

The accident happened at about 6:30 a.m. The nine-story Idaho Power building, which is the company's headquarters, is on Idaho Street between 12th and 13th streets. The bus involved was the #4 Roosevelt bus, which runs a loop between the Bench and Downtown Boise.

The bus, which came off the Connector and turned north on 13th Street at the Metro Express Car Wash, had some sort of mechanical problem as it approached Grove Street, according to ValleyRide spokesman Mark Carnopis.

"He had to do some pretty quick thinking," Carnopis said, referring to the driver. "He took evasive action."

To avoid the cars that were stopped ahead of the bus on 13th Street, the bus driver steered the vehicle off 13th, over the curb and through the Idaho Power parking lot.

"It was a helluva ride," said Joseph Pacheco, a 47-year-old Boisean who was headed Downtown to get coffee. Pacheco said he was sitting toward the front of the bus, and he thought the driver did the best he could given what appeared to be brake failure.

A ValleyRide bus official said between seven and 10 people were on the bus at the time of the crash; Boise police said the number was closer to 10 to 12.

The bus driver was a veteran with at least five years of experience, Carnopis said. The initial estimate was that the bus was traveling at 20 mph, he said.

The bus hit several trees in the moments before it crashed into the south side of the building, which is the employee entrance. The debris from the incident stretched for a couple of blocks near the Idaho Power building, beginning near 13th and Grove streets. The bus came to a stop after hitting a building column that leads to an underground parking lot.

"We're just thankful nobody was injured in this," Carnopis said. "The driver is shaken up, but he's OK."

Carnopis said the driver is now on paid administrative leave. As part of the investigation of the crash, he will be tested for drugs.

Public Works and Idaho Power crews were on scene to address the several light poles that were knocked down. The Boise Fire Department is working with structural engineers to assess the damage to the building.

Lynette Berriochoa, a spokeswoman for Idaho Power, said engineers determined the concrete-and-steel column that the bus hit was decorative, not weight-bearing. She said the columns alternate, so there's a mix of decorative and weight-bearing columns.

The second-floor space above where the crash occurred is used for a corporate library and conference room. As a precautionary measure, the people who work in the library have been relocated, Berriochoa said.

The bus came to rest above a mail room / delivery drive that goes underneath the building. Berriochoa said no one was in that area when the crash occurred.

Boise police said officers are continuing to investigate the incident. There are lane restrictions at 13th and Main streets, so motorists are advised to prepare for delays in that area.

Check back with the Statesman for updates throughout the morning. See below for a map of the crash site, and video of a ValleyRide spokesman describing the accident and the bus driver's quick actions to avoid other vehicles.

View City bus crashes into Idaho Power building in a larger map

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