Federal and local authorities are continuing their investigations into what led to a bus collision on Nov. 1 that left six people dead and sent ten others to the hospital with multiple injuries.
Investigators say a school bus was traveling eastbound near the 3800 block of Frederick Avenue when it hit a Mustang, then struck a wall at Loudon Park Cemetery before finally running into an oncoming No. 10 MTA bus traveling from Dundalk to Catonsville.
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)
The driver of the Mustang sustained minor injuries and is expected to survive.
The six people killed in the crash included both the school bus driver and the MTA driver. The school bus was on its way to pick up 18 special needs children and there were no children onboard. In addition to the driver, a school aide was on the bus and survived, according to Baltimore City Police.
The school bus is contracted to Baltimore City through AA Affordable Transportation.
During a press conference on Nov.1 Baltimore City Police spokesman T.J. Smith identified the deceased six victims only by age; by Nov. 2 five of the six victims had been identified:
- 51-year-old Gerald Halloway
- 46-year-old woman (Next of kin not determined)
- 33-year-old Ebonee Danell Baker, (MTA bus driver)
- 67-year-old Glenn R. Chappell (School bus driver)
- 51-year-old Cherry Yarborough
- 52-year-old Terrance Lee Casey
Two of the victims of the crash who were taken to University of Maryland Medical Center for treatment Tuesday have been discharged.
“This was a grueling and gruesome process of removing bodies; all six people were dead on the scene,” Smith said. “Our homicide investigators were out here because this is an extraordinary incident. Rarely do we deal with mass casualty situations that involve this many deaths at one scene. So we brought out additional personnel to support our crash scene. This is a crash investigation; not a criminal investigation.”
During the same press conference, MTA spokesperson Paul Shepard confirmed the death of the MTA bus driver.
“We are really wounded but were going to come out of this stronger,” said Shepherd. “We want to thank you all for being here. We can confirm, sadly, that our operator was among the fatalities in this terrible accident.”
That MTA bus operator has been identified as Ebonee Baker.
Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis expressed his sadness at the tragic event.
“They’re on their way to make a living, they’re on their way to the job and they’re on their way to support their families,” said Davis. “Our hearts and prayers go out to them, to their families, to their co-workers as well.”
The NTSB team is gathering information on the crash and will remain on the scene for the rest of the week. Jennifer Morrison, NTSB investigator, said her team expects to remain in Baltimore for some time.
“We expect to be in the area for the remainder of the week. During that time, we will continue to gather factual information with the goal of ultimately determining the cause of the crash, and issuing safety recommendations aimed at preventing future crashes and fatalities,” Morrison said.
Sean Braxton, of Columbia Maryland, and the driver of the Mustang that was hit by the school bus, said he was driving to work when his silver Mustang was hit. The collision crushed the rear of the car and forced its nose into the pavement.
“I just look up and I still see the bus going down the street and at that point I just had to close my eyes and try to get myself together,” Braxton told reporters. “And then people came into the car and started helping me out.”
Many first responders rushed to the aide of those involved in the crash, trying to help and save lives.
According to a statement released by Baltimore City Schools, seven different vendors are contracted to provide transportation for students. The bus involved in the crash provided curb to curb transportation to 18 students from their homes to school. As of Nov. 2 those children are being transported by a bus owned by Baltimore City Schools.
“At this time of tragedy, our hearts and thoughts are with the families, friends, and loved ones of those killed and injured,” the statement says. “We hope for the speedy and full recovery of those injured,” the statement says.
10 victims were injured and taken from the scene to area hospitals. Their injuries ranged from minor to critical.
Deborah M. Stein, Chief of Trauma and Director of Neurotrauma Critical Care at the University of Maryland R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center, and her team are treating five of the victims.
“We are currently treating five patients. One is critically injured, one is in serious and the other three are fortunately in stable condition…They are actually relatively generic injuries for what we see in motor vehicle crashes. I can’t give any details on the actual specifics of the injuries of the patients, but injuries to the facial bones, injuries to spine, spinal column, some visceral injuries as well.”
Police say it is possible the school bus driver had a medical emergency because they have no evidence the bus tried to stop or decelerate before hitting the car and the MTA bus.
“The school bus basically ripped the entire driver’s side off the MTA bus,” T.J. Smith said. “It literally looks like a bomb exploded in the bus and its catastrophic damage. We did not observe any type of skid marks on the road, which leads us to believe there, was no type of deceleration, but we don’t know all of those answers at this point in time.”
Governor Larry Hogan and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake were among many officials releasing statements expressing their condolences.
Police are asking anyone that may have footage, pictures, or just witnessed the crash to come forward with any information.