Family of student killed by Port Authority bus will receive $500k settlement


TPN File Photo

DeSoto Street in Oakland.

By Punya Bhasin, Assistant News Editor

The family of Barbara Como, a Pitt student who was fatally struck by a Port Authority bus in 2020, will receive a $500,000 settlement from Port Authority.

Shavonne James hit Barbara Como, a senior anthropology student, on Jan. 18, 2020 at the corner of Fifth Avenue and DeSoto Street. James’s view was blocked by a passenger on the bus. Como was transported to UPMC Presbyterian Hospital in serious condition, and later died at the hospital.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Port Authority’s performance oversight committee recommended on Thursday that the full board settle a personal injury claim filed by Como’s estate at its meeting on Jan. 28. This settlement is Port Authority’s maximum liability under state law, according to Mike Cetra, Port Authority’s chief legal officer.

James pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter and recklessly endangering another person last January and was sentenced to three years of probation. 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.

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

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.