WATCH: RTD driver was “nodding off” before he ran red light in Centennial bus crash, report says

The driver of an RTD bus that plowed into an SUV in a Centennial intersection last month ran a red light after appearing to be fatigued, according to onboard video and crash reports obtained by The Denver Post. Four people were taken to area hospitals after the early morning crash Aug.

25 at Parker and Orchard roads, including the bus driver. The Regional Transportation District's southbound Route 483 bus T-boned a Ford Explorer crossing on Orchard, then pushed the SUV across the intersection into northbound traffic that was stopped at the light.

Four other vehicles were damaged. The driver, Nathan Yitbark, worked for Transdev, an RTD contractor. In its accident report, provided Monday by RTD under a public records request, a Transdev safety manager indicates that the "operator is nodding off, closing (his) eyes" in video recorded by an onboard camera in the minutes before the 6:11 a.m. crash.

"It is observed that the operator is opening and closing his eyes several times while approaching the intersection and just as he runs the red light he opens his eyes and honks," wrote Dana Avalos, Transdev's safety manager, in the accident report. A Colorado State Patrol investigator similarly noted an apparent contributing factor of "asleep or fatigued" in that agency's final crash report. The CSP cited Yitbark, 42, for careless driving causing bodily injury.

(View on YouTube.) The company's internal report indicates that the driver wasn't working overtime or a split shift. RTD referred questions about his job status and whether he faced disciplinary action to Transdev, but its communication staff has not responded.

Yitbark, who has worked for Transdev for nearly 15 years, declined to speak about the crash when reached by The Post Monday night. His shift that day began at 3:26 a.m. More than two hours later, video from an external onboard camera shows that as he drives the bus south on Parker Road, the traffic light at Orchard is red long before he arrives.

Another camera view, looking toward the driver and the passengers, shows Yitbark reacting only in the final two seconds before the collision -- honking the horn, then grabbing the steering wheel and attempting to turn it left as he sees the Ford Explorer entering the intersection to his right. Yitbark, who appears to be wearing a loosened seatbelt, is jolted off his seat, hitting his head on a plastic divider between the driver's compartment and the boarding area. The five passengers on the bus and a service dog are knocked hard, too, with some of them falling off their seats.

The screeching bus comes to a stop five seconds later. The driver opens the doors, and one passenger, after exiting, alerts the others: "The bus is leaking! The bus is leaking!

Gas leak. Everybody out." After they clear the bus, the driver grabs the dispatch phone and reports the crash. Besides the driver, a bus passenger, James R.

Olkewicz of Aurora, and two occupants of the Explorer, Brent and Rita Walters of Centennial, were taken to area hospitals, according to the CSP crash report. The severity of their injuries was unclear.

9News previously reported that CSP found it was the bus driver who ran the red light -- not the Explorer's driver, as some witnesses initially told first responders that morning. But the bus driver's suspected fatigue was not revealed until RTD provided the videos and internal reports to The Post this week.

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