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The operator of the F-Market train which collided with an SUV on Market Street last week was distracted by a conversation with a passenger, according to Muni statements and media reports — a fact disputed by that passenger, who told a Board of Supervisors committee hearing Monday that the conversation ended at least five minutes before the collision.

“I am here to set the record straight,” said the witness, Norman Tanner. “I am the person who was talking to the driver… no one was talking to the driver at that time (of the collision). I don’t know how that got out there.”

Tanner was one of several public speakers at a hearing on Muni safety called by Supervisors Bevan Dufty and Sean Elsbernd in the wake of the July crash at West Portal which injured dozens.

In the hearing, Muni directly addressed both crashes briefly and described at length new safety training procedures on which all system operators would be instructed in coming months.

The Appeal has contacted Muni for comment on Tanner’s statement and will update when we hear back.

UPDATE: Muni officials pointed out that we failed to mention, as the SF Examiner did, that Tanner told the committee that the driver was distracted, as Muni has maintained all along, and that the driver was following too closely behind the vehicle eventually struck by the F-Market train.
Other witnesses have told Muni that the driver seemed to be distracted by a passenger. Tanner’s comments are now part of Muni’s investigation into the crash, according to agency spokesman Judson True.

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