Bus driver who killed pedestrian gets probation
The former CLEVELAND —
RTA bus driver who fatally struck a woman crossing the street in Public Square last December sobbed through her Monday sentencing hearing, where she was placed on probation for a year and ordered to do community service.
Antoinette Peterkin clutched her stomach as she apologized to the victim’s children, who had asked Judge John J. Russo not to send Peterkin to jail after she pleaded guilty last month to a misdemeanor vehicular homicide charge.
“I don’t know how I take any comfort in punishing a mother for taking away another mother,” Bill Keundig, the son of Joan Keundig, told Russo.
Russo obliged. He imposed a 6-month sentence that he then suspended, and placed Peterkin on a year’s probation and suspended her driver’s license for a year.
Russo also ordered Peterkin to complete 20 hours of community service at MetroHealth each month of her probation.
If Peterkin fails to carry out any portion of the probation, Russo could impose the six-month jail term.
Kuendig, a 69-year-old mother and grandmother, crossed the street outside the Key Tower about 7:30 a.m. on Dec. 7, 2016, as Peterkin drove the bus on East Roadway Avenue near Rockwell Avenue.
Peterkin rolled through the stop sign and struck Keundig as she walked into the marked crosswalk.
Keundig was conscious after the crash, but was bleeding from the mouth and nose. Peterkin said she got out of the bus to help Keundig, but “froze” when she saw the blood.
Kuendig was taken to MetroHealth, where she died 22 days later.
Keundig was planning to visit Italy to celebrate her 70th birthday, her daughter, Patricia Keundig said at Monday’s hearing. She had never been out of the country, and had her passport application in her purse when she was struck by the bus, her daughter said.
Patricia Keundig, a criminal defense attorney in Utah, said her mother’s death chipped away at her faith in the criminal justice system. She questioned why neither RTA nor Peterkin called her family.
She recalled spending 22 days next to her mother’s side at MetroHealth, playing Christmas and Motown songs and Cleveland Cavaliers games for her mother as she lay fighting for her life.
She said her ideal sentence would be for Peterkin to console grieving families at MetroHealth, and to continue spreading kindness into the world after her community service is over.
“As I process this loss, I need more hope in humans, and in justice,” she said.
Peterkin stood to speak and turned back to Keundig’s family in the courtroom. She never addressed Russo.
She struggled to catch her breath at times and begged Keundig’s children for forgiveness. She said she hasn’t gotten a full night’s sleep since the accident.
Keundig’s family locked eyes with her, sobbed and nodded their heads as she spoke.