Bus driver's emotional apology to dead woman's family
The driver whose bus hit jogger Venessa Green and killed her on Wellington's Willis St in June 2011 has made an emotional and unexpected apology to her family.
Tasi Kalolo, a driver for 29 years, gave evidence to the inquest into Green's death in Wellington yesterday. After completing his evidence, the softly spoken Kalolo turned to members of her family at the back of the court.
Directly addressing her parents Alan and Marlene Green, and her brother Aaron, he said: "There is something I wish to say. I apologise to you. I always remember Venessa in my prayers. I am so very, very, sorry for you and for your family."
There was not a dry eye in the back of court when Marlene Green replied through tears: "You do not have to apologise to us.
"We have never blamed you for Venessa's death. It was not your fault."
After leaving the witness box, Kalolo, of Newtown, walked immediately to the back of the court where he and the family went into a huddle.
The emotionally charged situation required coroner Garry Evans to call for an early lunch adjournment.
Speaking outside the court, Marlene Green, of Christchurch, said Kalolo's spontaneous apology had raised her family's spirits immensely on a very difficult day.
"His apology lifted us. He did not have to do that."
The Greens had earlier heard the police officer in charge of Wellington's serious crash unit, Sergeant Peter Sowter, say he could find no fault with Kalolo's driving.
Kalolo, a Go Wellington driver, was waiting in a line of buses at the Mercer St lights before heading south along Willis St about 1.10pm on June 28, 2011.
Two front-seat passengers on his No 7 Kingston-bound bus, Marguerite Ames and Nicola Boughtwood, said they saw Venessa Green, 40, jog out of Bond St, veer left on to the Willis St pavement and then run directly out in front of the bus.
Boughtwood, who was taking her 3-year-old son home from kindy, said she was running on a diagonal as if to cross the road and head towards Boulcott St. "She looked in the opposite direction, she did not look in our direction.
"She stepped on to the road, just in front of the bus, and I just remember screaming.
"The bus immediately hit her and seemed to push her along the road. There was a huge thudding sound as the bus hit her and the windscreen cracked."
Ames said the impact sounded like a clap of thunder. "It was massive."
Kalolo told Evans, via his lawyer Michael Bale: "As I passed Bond St, something caught my eye ... on the left ... near the front passenger seat."
He hit the brakes, turned to the right and heard a thump.
Boughtwood said: "The driver was in shock. He didn't really know what to do.
"People on the bus surrounded him and were telling him it wasn't his fault."
Green died of her injuries later in Wellington Hospital.
The hearing has been set down for two days.
- Dominion Post