Departed Muni Driver's Tragic Last Ride

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On the morning of July 23, Rene Lee Ing told his wife he was heading to work and left his Richmond District home -- a typical morning for the veteran Muni driver with more than a decade of experience behind the wheel.

But the 56-year-old Ing didn't go to work, and never would again. Instead of heading to the bus barn he drove his car to the Golden Gate Bridge. Several out-of-towners watched Ing hop over the railing, climb onto a maintenance cart, and hurl himself to his death. Marin County coroner Ken Holmes confirms that Ing was wearing his full Muni uniform.

At least a dozen calls to the Transportation Workers Union have not been returned, and our queries to Muni's management haven't been answered yet either. But several Muni drivers -- speaking on background as Muni has supposedly "really been coming down on" drivers who talk to the media following this month's train collision -- paint a hazy portrait of a desperate man in an unenviable work situation.

Several different drivers told us that Muni management "was in the process of terminating" Ing, who was accused of tampering with the bus' onboard cameras and/or GPS system (again, Muni management has not yet gotten back to us regarding Ing's employment situation).

"He was in the process of trying to defend himself," said one driver. But it was a process that apparently was not going well in Ing's own estimation. We may never know what statement Ing was attempting to make by wearing his full Muni uniform on the day he took his own life. But it seems clear that some sort of statement -- and a powerful one at that -- was being made.

Ing's work colleagues passed the hat and raised funds for his funeral. His viewing is tonight and services will be held next week.

Update, 5:50 p.m. Muni spokesman Judson true notes that "the thoughts of the entire SFMTA family are with Mr. Ing's family and friends following the tragedy last week."

He confirms that Ing was "a 9163 Transit Operator as of July 23, 2009" and had been hired in 1997. True says that state law prohibits releasing any information from Ing's personnel file.

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