SAN ANTONIO – VIA Metropolitan Transit bus driver Andrew Perez was in the middle of a nighttime route last November when he got a distressing call over the radio.
His 2019 Nissan Sentra had been sideswiped in VIA’s San Pedro Avenue bus lot.
Surveillance footage obtained by KSAT Investigates shows a pushcart driven by a maintenance employee veered off course while pushing a bus, causing the cart to crash into the back portion of Perez’s unoccupied vehicle.
The car suffered heavy damage and set Perez, 23, on a now nearly year-long odyssey to get VIA to compensate him for the crash.
“It’s really heartbreaking knowing that the company I love and work for and have been there, can’t even be there for me,” said Perez. “Originally I was told from our HR department that since it was a VIA vehicle, VIA property, VIA employee, that VIA wasn’t responsible, when they said ‘VIA’ in all three of those scenarios.”
He said he was eventually handed off to the company’s risk management department.
Perez said he spent $3,000 to rent a car for two and a half months while waiting for replacement parts to come in for his wrecked vehicle.
He said he also had to cover a $500 insurance deductible before work could be done on his car.
Perez added that his monthly insurance premiums have also gone up because he had to report the crash to his insurance carrier.
In late September, during a VIA board meeting, Perez called out company management for not resolving the issue in a timely manner.
“I was calm, thinking I would be taken care of. ‘My company would take care of me,’” said Perez, in emotionally charged remarks in front of VIA’s board of trustees. “I get cussed at, yelled at, spit at, almost assaulted. I’ve been through so much with this company. I’ve shown you so much loyalty over this year.”
Eight days later, Perez received a letter from a VIA Risk Management claims analyst offering to settle his claim for $600. The figure represents 24 days of car rental at $25 per day.
KSAT Investigates could not find a rental car available in San Antonio for $25 per day for a 23-year-old driver. The settlement offer also does not cover the length of time Perez said he was without a vehicle and does not address the insurance deductible he had to pay.
“I am definitely not going to accept your $600. I need what was paid for my rental, I need my deductible and that’s what I need,” said Perez.
VIA officials declined a request to be interviewed for this story and said via email earlier this month that the company is continuing to work directly with Perez to address his concerns.
“Our understanding of the situation is that our risk management office requested pertinent documents from Mr. Perez after the incident that took place last November. They were provided October 3, which allowed staff to move forward. An offer to resolve Mr. Perez’s complaint was extended October 5. It’s being discussed. We don’t have further details at this time,” VIA spokeswoman Dr. Lorraine Pulido said via email.
VIA officials have not said whether the maintenance employee who crashed into Perez’s vehicle was disciplined for the wreck.