Bystanders recount ‘totally overwhelming,’ ‘shocking’ crash scene
Irvington. The school bus, carrying only the driver, who died, and a school aide, who survived, cleaved through the front of a Maryland Transit Administration bus.
Inside the MTA bus, a woman was pinned in the crushed nose of the bus. She was screaming, Feldman said.
“Every time I would try to pull the door open, she had part of her body that it was pushing against,” he said. She was trapped.
The horrific accident brought a number of passersby and community members out to help the victims, and then to aid the first responders. Many described mangled vehicles, trapped passengers and cries for help.
Kevin Travers, 55, a maintenance worker at St. Joseph’s Monastery, had walked past that stretch of road just before the crash. He said he went inside the maintenance building at the intersection of Frederick Avenue and South Morley Street about 6:15 a.m., and then heard the police helicopter overhead about 15 minutes later. “It happened real fast,” he said. The school aide, eight passengers on the MTA bus and the driver of the Mustang were injured, police said. They suffered injuries ranging from minor to critical.
The force of the collision threw Laquwanda Booker, 23, across the seats inside the MTA bus, said her sister, Kaneisha Booker.
Laquwanda Booker was riding the MTA bus to work at Westgate Hills Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center in West Baltimore. Kaneisha Booker said she visited her sister Tuesday at Sinai Hospital, where officials said Laquwanda was in good condition Tuesday afternoon.
The Mustang driver, Shawn Braxton, said he was driving to work when the bus hit his car. Bystanders helped him get out of his wrecked car, he said.
Braxton said he was bruised and also struggling emotionally.
“I’m just mentally trying to deal with, you know, surviving the accident while other people died,” he said.
Mary Schruefer, who works nearby at Mountain Manor Treatment Center and arrived around 7:45 a.m., said the crash scene, bustling with first responders, was “totally overwhelming.”
“The way that bus was just opened up, it was just unreal. It was a tragedy,” said Schruefer, of Arbutus.
The 60-year-old works as an administrator at the drug addiction counseling facility at the monastery.
“There were just people everywhere, vehicles everywhere,” she said. “It was so overwhelming, you couldn’t focus in on any particular part.”
She said the full impact of what happened didn’t hit her until later when she got home.
“Every day on the news you hear tragedies, you hear about people killed, but somehow having it happen this close to you it just personalizes it,” she said. “It was totally shocking.”
Investigators don’t yet know what caused the school bus driver to lose control of his vehicle, police said. Police Commissioner Kevin Davis thanked bystanders for helping the victims and first responders.
With the woman screaming and trapped in the MTA bus, Feldman and another bystander pulled apart the shattered windshield.
“She was just mainly screaming, ‘Help! Get meout of here! Get this off me!’” he said. “She was in a lot of pain.”
Feldman climbed through the windshield and started clearing away broken glass. He moved aside when the firefighters rushed up, and then checked on the school bus.
The driver was inside and the back door hung open when Feldman peered in.
“It was just smashed all the way in,” he said. “You couldn’t get to him.”
He hurried around the side and by then a crowd was gathering. More police and firefighters were arriving. Feldman watched as the firefighters took over, cutting and prying open the crushed buses. The trapped woman was pulled out.
Feldman continued to watch as the sun rose and smoke continued to pour out of the wreckage. He said it was surreal.