By­s­tanders re­count ‘to­tally over­whelm­ing,’ ‘shock­ing’ crash scene

Baltimore Sun - - DEADLY BUS CRASH - Bal­ti­more Sun re­porter Car­rie Wells and the As­so­ci­ated Press con­trib­uted to this ar­ti­cle. tpru­dente@balt­sun.com

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.

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