Fresno transient hit and killed by bus

FRESNO, Calif.

Around 9:30 Tuesday night a transient named Kevin Bateham was struck and killed by a bus as it exited the freeway at Highway 99 and Fresno Street.

"I found out this morning that someone had been hit on the freeway, but we didn't know who it was," Angel Smith of Cowboy Joe's Smoke Shop said.

Local advocates for fresno's homeless community are mourning the death of 48-year-old Bateham.

"I was shocked to learn that. I'm still emotional over it," Smith said.

Bateham was a well-known transient often seen panhandling in the median.

"He'd be on the freeway asking for money and flagging his sign," Smith said.

He'd often hang out at Cowboy Joe's Smoke Shop where he'd help clean in exchange for food and clothing.

Fresno police say he appeared to be drinking alcohol when the bus carrying passengers from Sacramento to Tijuana exited the freeway and turned left to make one final stop before heading off to Mexico.

"The bus had passed the pedestrian and for some reason the pedestrian had stepped back into the path of the bus and was run over by the rear wheels of the bus," Andy Hall of the Fresno Police Department said.

Hall says the driver was headed to the Rapid Connection Office on Fresno and E and was unaware someone was hit.

"I think he was flagged down by onlookers. In fact, he told officers he didn't think he had hit him at all. It wasn't until we inspected the bus and had it impounded that the bus did in fact hit him," Hall said.

Passengers were loaded onto another bus while Fresno police investigated the collision.

At this point Hall says it appears the Bateham was at fault because he wasn't in a crosswalk. He urges drivers to be on the lookout for pedestrians while driving downtown.

"This is a frequent problem in downtown Fresno, we do have a large homeless population, they're often in the street and our drivers do a really good job watching out for them, but alcohol and being in the roadway just don't mix," Hall said.

An employee from Rapid Connection told Action News the driver is still employed with the company and they expect the bus to be returned by Thursday.

Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.