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I was on the 54-Felton during the 1989 earthquake

jenifer wofford muni illustration
Illustration by Jenifer Wofford

Do you remember where you were when the big one hit in 1989? Tomorrow is the 25th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake, and Jenifer Wofford
of Earthquake Weather has been gathering stories about the quake. Stories on her site are accompanied by her wonderful illustrations such as the one above. San Franciscan Gabe Wachob happened to be riding the 54-Felton that fateful evening. Here’s his story.

On the evening of Oct 17, 1989, I was a 16 year old senior at Lick-Wilmerding High School. When the earthquake hit, I was on the 54 Felton on my way home after a late day at school (why I was going home at 5, I don’t remember). It was a normal day, except abnormally hot as we all know, except about 2 minutes after we crossed Mission (on Persia), while at a stop, someone started trying to tip the old bus over. Or so we thought. It was a strange experience – those old diesel buses were not exactly lightweight… When I looked up (during the shaking) I saw “standing waves” in the electricity lines above. I knew it was an earthquake.

The bus continued on the route – I don’t think we knew the magnitude of what had happened. It was clear, as we continued on, that it was a serious event, however. Driving through a part of town with 2 story stucco-d houses with garages on the first floor, we could see big cracks in the stucco around almost every garage.

Veteran Muni driver killed by waves in Marin

Photo by Tito Perez

Jimmy Chiu drove for Muni for more than 30 years. Last weekend, Chiu, who loved to fish, was swept away and killed by a “sneaker wave” on the Marin coast.

KTVU has the story.

Fishing didn’t always bring joy. When the 61-year old Chiu was 8-years old, living in Communist China, he used to fish to put food on the table for his family.

“He swore he would never fish again,” said the younger Chiu. Years later, Chiu was looking forward to fishing in his retirement.

“That’s what he loved to do,” his son explained.

Chiu was getting ready to retire after 31-years as a Muni driver on the 38-Geary line.

“His coworkers deeply miss him for his smile and just his disposition,” said Muni supervisor, Ayn Antonio. “He had a very level headed disposition.”

Read the whole story at KTVU. We offer our condolences to Chiu’s family.

If you knew Chiu from his routes, let us know in comments, please.