It’s been almost a year since Baltimore City Public Schools (BCPS) bus driver Glenn Chapell’s life ended suddenly. The yellow school bus he was driving on November 1, 2016, rear ended a car in the 3800 block of Frederick Avenue in the Irvington community and then collided with an MTA bus. Five riders on that MTA bus perished along with Chapell.
However, an investigation into the deadly crash has yet to be conducted, said Baltimore City Councilman, Zeke Cohen (D-3) Chair of the Education and Youth Committee.
Fire department and rescue officials are at the scene of an early morning fatal collision between a school bus and a commuter bus Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016, in Baltimore. (Jeffrey F. Bill/Baltimore Sun via AP)
“Our fear was always that the audit would drag out and the school year would start back up with any progress being made. This accident was tragic but was also avoidable,” said Cohen.
In April 2017, The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) requested school officials perform a safety audit to ensure students are being transported according to state regulations. But as of this week, the Maryland State Department of Education had not finalized a contract to conduct the investigation.
Cohen, youth representatives from BCPS and other members of the City Council’s Education and Youth Committee called on The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) to expediently perform an audit of school bus safety. The group held a press conference Sept. 25 to implore MSDE to move forward immediately with the investigation.
“The safety of our children continues to be at risk,” Cohen said.
The NTSB issued an incident report in December 2016, indicating Chappell, 67, had been involved in 12 crashes in the past five years. The report indicated Chapell experienced “seizure like episodes” and had experienced a medical emergency one week before crash. Paramedics contacted AAAfordable Transportation, Chappell’s employer. The NTSB report noted no mechanical failure was involved in the crash.
Nico Williams, Chapell’s grandson confirmed that his grandfather had been taking seizure medication to prevent further episodes.
Eleven other people were injured as a result of the bus crash including other MTA passengers, a teacher’s aide riding the school bus and the driver of the car that was rear-ended.
In May, a $10 million lawsuit was filed on behalf of victims of the bus crash alleging Chappell had been cleared to work despite numerous serious health problems that should have prohibited him from driving a commercial vehicle according to state and federal regulations.