Port Authority bus driver pleads guilty to involuntary manslaughter in student’s death


Thomas Yang | Senior Staff Photographer

Barbara Como, a senior anthropology major, was struck by a Port Authority bus turning from Fifth Avenue onto DeSoto Street on Jan. 18.

By Rebecca Johnson, News Editor

The Port Authority bus driver who fatally struck a Pitt student last year pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter and recklessly endangering another person on Monday. The driver will serve three years of probation.

Shavonne James hit Barbara Como, a senior anthropology student, last January at the corner of Fifth Avenue and DeSoto Street while her view was blocked by a bus passenger. Como was transported to UPMC Presbyterian Hospital in serious condition, and later passed away at the hospital.

A criminal complaint said Como’s death was a “direct result” of James driving with a passenger blocking her view of mirrors, in violation of federal regulations. Police said the traffic light on Fifth Avenue was green, and pedestrians had a walk signal when the incident occurred.

James’ sentence was part of a plea deal. She was charged in June with involuntary manslaughter, unlawful activities, reckless driving and right-of-way of pedestrians in crosswalks. When charges were filed, the Port Authority suspended James with pay. She will now face an internal disciplinary hearing, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Como was a research assistant with the Learning Research and Development Center and resident of Lothrop Hall. She was a resident of Chester Springs, Pa.

For students who are affected by this news, online and digital services and resources for students are available by contacting the University Counseling Center at 412-648-7930 x1. LifeSolutions, the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program, is available 24/7 by calling 866-647-3432.