Alameda man dies in bus collision

Alameda man dies in bus collision

Michele Ellson

AC Transit and Alameda police are investigating a fatal bus collision with a pedestrian that occurred Thursday evening.

Friends identified the victim as Sam Sause, 78, of Alameda.

AC Transit spokesman Clarence Johnson said the Line 20 bus was turning left from Grand Street onto Otis Drive shortly before 5:45 p.m. Thursday when the collision occurred. He said the driver had a green light and that Sause was in the crosswalk. But Johnson said the cause of the accident isn't yet known.

"There's still a lot that hasn't been determined as to the cause of the accident," Johnson said Friday morning.

He said the driver was tested for drugs and alcohol and has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the results of the investigation.

The fatality was the first AC Transit has experienced this year, Johnson said.

Police Chef Paul Rolleri said the driver may simply not have seen Sause in the crosswalk. Police are also investigating the collision.

He said Sause was transported to Highland Hospital after the collision, where he later died.

Sause, who owns a transportation and distribution business and is active and well known in the community, is being mourned by fellow Rotarians, who learned of his death on Friday.

"Sam will be missed by all of us," Rotary Club of Alameda President Debborah Knowles, who said Sause was exercising near his home when the accident occurred, wrote to members on Friday morning. "Please keep the Sause family in your thoughts and prayers."


Submitted by Anna (not verified) on Fri, Dec 12, 2014

Sause was in the crosswalk, but which crosswalk? In front of the bus on Grand or while crossing Otis?

Submitted by Michele Ellson on Fri, Dec 12, 2014

Hi Anna: As I understand it, he was crossing Otis.

Submitted by BMac (not verified) on Fri, Dec 12, 2014

Pedestrians have a walk signal at the same time the left turners have a green light (not an arrow). This intersection is too large, busy, fast and dangerous to not give the left turners their own arrow. Surely this contributed to the death, along with the weather and carelessness on the driver's part.

Submitted by Michael Swartz (not verified) on Fri, Dec 12, 2014

OMG! What a horrible tragedy. He was a wonderful man.

Jon Spangler's picture
Submitted by Jon Spangler on Fri, Dec 12, 2014

Sam was a friend, a fellow Episcopalian, and he contributed regularly to our community. His death is a tragedy and he will be missed by many.

May he rest in peace. May Helen and all who mourn his sudden death be comforted.

Submitted by George Gadsby (not verified) on Fri, Dec 12, 2014

So sorry o hear this.

RIP Sam.

George and Margaret

Submitted by jolene (not verified) on Fri, Dec 12, 2014

Love you grandpa

Submitted by Sheryl (not verified) on Fri, Dec 12, 2014

So sorry for Sam & family! This crosswalk is very Dangerous , I was almost hit 2 times when I had a green light & was in the crosswalk

Submitted by Bill Garvine (not verified) on Fri, Dec 12, 2014

This is devastating, Sam was a wonderful man, a wonderful Alamedan, and a wonderful friend to so many! God bless him, and God bless Helen also.

Submitted by Michael wasteney (not verified) on Fri, Dec 12, 2014

I am amazed this is the first fatality by Ac transit and a pedestrian this year. I noticed they said fatality and not accident. These Ac transit buses drive around Alameda way to fast and without regard for people in crosswalks and pedestrians in general.It seams to me, they feel like they have impunity of the traffic laws.

Submitted by Ryan Hart (not verified) on Fri, Dec 12, 2014

Very sad indeed. He was a very nice man and I had the pleasure of spending a day with him this summer. My prayers and heart goes out to Helen and the rest of his family.


Submitted by Rachel Campos (not verified) on Fri, Dec 12, 2014

This is such sad news. My heart and prayers go out to Sam's wife. I know he was very active in the community so please share if there is anything we can do to rally as a remembrance.

Submitted by Jessica (not verified) on Fri, Dec 12, 2014

This may not be the case in this particular situation, but... The bus drivers drive like maniacs around here. They don't mess around. I have noticed over the last year that I get cut off a lot by them. Say you come to a stop sign or light and the bus stop is to your right, as soon as the light turns green, they haul ass to get in front. I had never seen anything like that before moving to the West Coast. I guess they are trying to keep on shcedule or something. Maybe this is a contributing factor to the carelessness. How terribly sad. More lights on this road would be nice too. When it is raining it is so hard to see and there is a lot of pedestrian traffic. Plus it has been getting dark much earlier and with the beach so close by, I am sure there is more foot traffic in this area.

Submitted by Ariane (not verified) on Fri, Dec 12, 2014

Yes, the ACT drivers speed over the 25 mph limit all the time and that's especially dangerous on dark Winter nights. I was almost hit by someone turning without looking once while riding my bike in that intersection (and it was during daylight hours).

Submitted by Michael (not verified) on Fri, Dec 12, 2014

AC Transit drivers are among the worst public drivers I have ever seen! They drive around Bay Farm way too fast, ignoring cars and pedestrians. I even filed a formal complaint with ACT and while a supervisor called me, they simply dismissed my concern.

Something needs to be done about this menace!


Submitted by Tom Tuttle (not verified) on Sat, Dec 13, 2014

I was deeply saddened to hear about the tragic death of Sam Sause, a gentleman and positive attribute to our community. Unfortunately, it's another example of the risks that confront pedestrians on our city's streets and those throughout the Bay Area. Those of us who walk those streets regularly know how dangerous it can be. The number of serious injuries and fatalities to pedestrians has soared in recent years. It's time for cities, police and citizens of the Bay Area to take this issue far much more seriously and strive to prevent incidents similar to that which claimed Sam. If you walk our mean streets, do so defensively. At night, wear reflective gear and/or lights that further alert drivers to your presence. Drivers, stay alert, don't let your attention drift and constantly be aware that pedestrians of all ages are walking and crossing our streets at all hours. The life you save may be that of a friend, neighbor and exemplary citizen such as Sam Sause.
Bless Sam as we extend our sincerest sympathy to Helen and his family.


Submitted by Loves Alameda (not verified) on Sat, Dec 13, 2014

This the saddest news, condolences to his family. May his family be at peace as best as they can this holiday season. I live near there, so combined, I walk and drive in that area at the an average of 7 times a day. Many many MANY times I've clocked the ac transit buses drive right by Grand driving recklessly over the speed limit. Also, the bus will sometimes tailgate! In fact, I've I've called Ac transit and they are not helpful at all. Ask anyone that lives near there. They are terrible. I've almost been hit by them, as well as family members. There is one lady that has really has a heavy foot! I've beeped and pointed at her to slow down, and I've reported her, apparently no one talks to her, and she simple gives me mean look and continues to drive fast. It must be a difficult job to be a bus driver, but driving too fast to keep a schedule is not okay. When I see the buses I just let them go because I'm honestly afraid of them. I'm so very very sorry for the loss of precious life. I hope ac transit now will listen and take seriously when complaints are made to them.

Submitted by Loves Alameda (not verified) on Sat, Dec 13, 2014

I just read the comments, I hope the act authorities and Alameda police read these, too. And I agree, the act drivers appear to be the worst public drivers, and yes, Michael, my act transit complaints were dismissed, too! I was so angry I told my spouse I wanted to get a speed gun and spend a few days videotaping the reckless speeding!

Submitted by Steve Gerstle on Sat, Dec 13, 2014

The current issue of AARP Bulletin has an article about senior citizen pedestrian safety.

Submitted by marvie (not verified) on Sat, Dec 13, 2014

Unfortunately, those 25 mph speed warnings on Otis and elsewhere don't seem to affect speeding drivers in cars either; why have 25 mph speed limits if nobody is complying? Why is everybody driving seemingly always in a hurry? Maybe this tragedy will slow down some of those speeding bus and car drivers, but I wouldn't bet on it.....

Submitted by Steve Gerstle on Sat, Dec 13, 2014

There is a speed trailer set up at Central and Sixth. The speed limit is 25mph, but many vehicles were traveling at about 35mph and not yielding to pedestrians in the crosswalk. Without enforcement, they are no better than scarecrows. The situation -- which is truly life and death -- continues to worsen. Whatever APD is doing is not working. Hopefully the new mayor and council will make it clear that this must be a priority.

Submitted by Rosemary (not verified) on Sun, Dec 14, 2014

Today about 1:00 I saw a car breeze right through a red light down Santa Clara at Park Street. A teenager on a skateboard was already heading into that intersection. Where are the police these days? Do any drivers get tickets?

Submitted by MJ (not verified) on Mon, Dec 15, 2014

Each time I go for a walk in Alameda, and I mean EACH time, I see at least one major traffic violation that is seriously dangerous. By this I mean running a red light, not yielding to pedestrians in crosswalks, turning right at stop signs without stopping or looking, etc. I don't even count speeding. Frankly I am surprised there are not more injuries and fatalities. I have suspected for a while that nothing will get done about it until one or more children are hit. Then maybe the community will demand greater enforcement.

Very sad that someone was struck and killed here. Especially given the past talk about making Alameda more bike and pedestrian friendly. What a joke. Maybe the new council will, in fact, "walk the walk" and not just give lip service to the concept.

Submitted by Robert Kemp (not verified) on Tue, Dec 16, 2014

Great loss of fellow Rotarian. Many international Rotary projects with him in Central America- wheel chairs,stove
projects. Also, a fellow Navy Leaguer along with Hadi Monsef,
several sea voyages with them both.
Good memories but sad loss of 2 outstanding gentlemen from our community.
. Rlk

Submitted by debra sarver (not verified) on Tue, Dec 16, 2014

Walking around town and Southshore is dangerous. Cars speed, do not stop at stop signs, do not yield to pedestrians. I have see two cars pass other cars on Broadway in the last month. At Southshore the walking paths do not go where you would want to go, there are none in the parking lot and many end abruptly with no path or crosswalk to connect to. I have spoken to the Bike/Walk coalition which has attempted to work with the owners. The parking lot was just done again, but the stripes were put back in the same place. As far as the signals, clearly the passengers crossing Otis and the people making turns onto it should have differently timed lights. It's not rocket science. Often when I walk or jog, people come tearing down their long driveways and do not stop or slowdown when approaching the sidewalk. People need to leave 5 minutes earlier and be more cautious. I know I wouldn't want to live with having hit a pedestrian whether it was my fault or not.

Submitted by Daniel Campbell (not verified) on Tue, Dec 16, 2014

Sam was a great friend, mentor, and colleague. The news of his passing was a shock and has left me deeply saddened.

Sam was full of life, always looking for new opportunities, and continually encouraged me to pursue opportunities in my career.

We met frequently for coffee and I always looked forward to our conversations. We spoke almost everyday on the telephone about business and life. When ever needed an answer to a complicated move, or just needed an encouraging word, I knew the answer was just a telephone call away. I have always considered Sam a dear friend and will miss him tremendously.

My deepest condolences to The Sause family. In this time of grief I can only reflect on what a profound impact Sam had on my career and my life. I think that anybody who knew Sam will say the same thing; he always had an encouraging thing to say and always wanted the best fro his friends and loved ones.

Than Almitra spoke, saying, "We would ask now of Death."
And he said:
You would know the secret of death.
But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?
The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day cannot unveil the mystery of light.
If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life.
For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.
In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond;
And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart dreams of spring.
Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.
Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd when he stands before the king whose hand is to be laid upon him in honour.
Is the sheered not joyful beneath his trembling, that he shall wear the mark of the king?
Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling?
For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?
And what is to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?
Only when you drink form the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.
Khalil Ghibran

Submitted by marvie (not verified) on Tue, Dec 16, 2014

I was born and raised in San Francisco; I moved here in 1998...I loved the small town atmosphere and feeling of serenity...In S.F. last year, 21 pedestrians died getting hit by cars...think about that; TWENTY ONE people died just walking across the street...I hate the way drivers are always speeding...that just seems to have increased here in Alameda as the density of cars in Alameda has increased as well....more people driving, more people in a hurry...and it seems to be getting worse all the time....