SAN ANTONIO – A VIA Metropolitan Transit bus driver already had more than 50 discipline violations on her record when she drifted into the wrong lane Aug. 16 and crashed into four vehicles parked along a street on the city's West Side, according to personnel files obtained by the KSAT 12 Defenders.
Charletta Springs, 48, was forced to resign in lieu of termination a week after causing the wreck in the 2400 block of Ruiz Street.
A 45-year-old woman sitting in one the parked vehicles was seriously injured and had to be cut out of the mangled wreckage by San Antonio Fire Department personnel using the Jaws of Life.
It was at least the third on-duty driving incident in less than three years in which Springs was found to be responsible for injuring other people.
In September 2014, a man using a walker fell and hurt himself at Lockhill Selma and Blanco roads after Springs failed to lower the bus after lowering its ramp, according to her personnel file.
Less than four months later, in January 2015, Springs was suspended for three days after she ran a red light at Broadway Street and Fourth Avenue, causing an injury accident, according to the file.
Records show Springs was placed on six-months probation by VIA after the second incident, which she completed.
The 20 driving violations Springs racked up after being hired by VIA in July 2013 included repeatedly passing bus stops where riders were waiting, pulling in front of a vehicle at Theo and Malone avenues, nearly sideswiping a motorist while on Loop 1604 near the Interstate 10 interchange and failing to show up for mandatory counseling.
Springs was also allowed to remain behind the wheel despite being counseled again and again for at least 33 unauthorized absences from work.
These absences included calling off with insufficient notice, failing to show up and not calling off and repeatedly taking unpaid sick days.
Springs did not respond to a request for comment left at her last known address.
VIA records also confirm Springs was replaced mid-route on April 19 after one of her riders called VIA to complain that Springs was "driving erratic, weaving in and out of traffic" and almost hit a car while leaving a park & ride near UTSA's main campus.
The complaint indicates that Springs told a dispatcher that she was "light-headed" while behind the wheel.
"I mean, with that kind of record, why was she still driving?" said Rodolfo Herrera, whose truck was damaged during the Aug. 16 crash on Ruiz Street.
Juan Reyes, whose van was totaled and whose work truck sustained heavy damage, said VIA offered to settle his claim for the two vehicles for $2,800.
Springs, who is repeatedly heard on camera saying she did not know why she drifted into the opposite lane, was treated by paramedics on board the bus before being taken to a hospital via ambulance.
Records provided by Northside Independent School District, where Springs worked as a bus driver from 2008 to 2012, show she was disciplined there at least seven times.
Springs served a one-day suspension in October 2009 after failing to report a bus accident she was involved in, according to NISD records.
VIA officials declined our repeated requests for an interview for this story, and instead released the following statement:
VIA provides over 42 million passenger trips each year. The overwhelming majority are completed without incident. VIA operators are trained to provide a safe and comfortable environment for our customers. The agency has been recognized for maintaining among the safest driving records in the industry.
VIA operators are required to undergo a physical exam at the time they are hired. VIA may require a fitness-for-duty exam at any time during their employment, including if there is a concern or complaint about operator performance.
In addition, VIA provides resources and opportunities for employees to participate in health-related activities and wellness programs. These include free screenings, health education programs, and fitness classes. VIA employees are also afforded the benefit of paid sick leave.
Operators may avail themselves of these services and benefits at any time during their employment. All operators must satisfy VIA's physical exam requirements and any additional assessments requested in order to be cleared to perform their duties.
The operator involved in the incident on August 16 was required to comply with all VIA policies and procedures and has since resigned her position with VIA.