PANAMA CITY -- Newly released video from security cameras inside a Bay Towne Trolley demonstrates why wearing a seat belt is a good idea.
The video was from an incident that occurred in December of 2010 when a trolley running a route on 11th Street in the downtown Panama City area left the roadway and ran into a building.
The video clearly shows the driver entering the empty bus, taking a seat, putting it into gear and driving away, without putting on her seatbelt.
As the bus moves down the street, the driver honks and waves at someone on the street, at one point takes both hands off the wheel as the bus is moving, picks up her phone and punches in a number, then says "Hey" into the phone. But she doesn't put on her seat belt.
The bus moves along the street, stops at a couple of corners before reaching an intersection where the driver appears to be preparing to execute a left turn.
As she turns the wheel and begins to accelerate, the bus apparently speeds up and the driver slides from her seat. She tries to keep contact with the wheel but is thrown by the force of the turn across the bus and into the door well. That's just when the bus comes to an abrupt halt, apparently against the building.
The driver then scrambles back to the seat and looks for her phone, appearing to try to call for help. She finally opens the door, and a passer-by asks if she's all right. She tells the passerby that she "fell out of the seat."
When a police officer arrives at the bus and asks what happened, the driver says, "I don't know what happened. I lost control. I was trying to put my seatbelt on."
The building the trolley ran into is owned by Bill Price, a lawyer, and used as his law offices. Price has had to file suit against the trolley company for damages.
In the meantime, the city has gone after Price. Code Enforcement officers are holding him responsible for the building, which they termed "a public nuisance."