Ebonee Baker, MTA driver, loved her job and fam­ily

Baltimore Sun - - DEADLY BUS CRASH - Cwells@balt­sun.com

When Ebonee Baker was hired as a fare in­spec­tor for the Mary­land Tran­sit Ad­min­is­tra­tion 11 years ago, her friends said, she hoped it would be a step­ping stone to be­com­ing a bus driver. The dream even­tu­ally came true. “She was very ded­i­cated to her job,” said Sahkia John­son, a long­time friend. “On time, al­ways there, when­ever they needed her. She con­sid­ered the MTA friends she had as fam­ily.”

Baker, a 33-year-old mother of four chil­dren and three stepchil­dren, was one of six killed in the bus crash Tues­day morn­ing in South­west Bal­ti­more.

An MTA spokesman said Baker had worked for the agency since June 2005. She was a full-time op­er­a­tor and “an ex­tra sec­re­tary” who worked dif­fer­ent as­sign­ments from week to week. She was mar­ried to an­other MTA em­ployee.

“She was a gen­uine over­all beau­ti­ful per­son that was 100 per­cent ded­i­cated to her fam­ily and close friends,” spokesman Paul Shep­ard said in a state­ment. “In ad­di­tion to work­ing, she was to­tally com­mit­ted to all ac­tiv­i­ties that her chil­dren were en­gaged in as well as planned and co­or­di­nated events at the divi­sion for all oc­ca­sions.”

Griev­ing fam­ily mem­bers de­clined to com­ment.

Baker’s friends de­scribed the Rosedale woman as an out­go­ing, funny per­son who hosted par­ties for hol­i­days and Bal­ti­more Ravens games — for which she would dress up in pur­ple.

She was ded­i­cated to her chil­dren and stepchil­dren, they said, shut­tling them to soccer, foot­ball and cheer­lead­ing. She was a coach for the Over­lea High School track team.

Her daugh­ter, Tay­lah Arm­strong, at­tends the In­sti­tute of Notre Dame. David C. Ring Jr., the school’s pres­i­dent, said the closely knit com­mu­nity was mourn­ing the loss. Coun­sel­ing was be­ing of­fered to stu­dents and staff.

“We have been do­ing ev­ery­thing we can to pro­vide sup­port,” Ring said.

Baker was a long­time member of Greater Geth­se­mane Mis­sion­ary Bap­tist Church. She would of­ten bring her chil­dren with her to church, the Rev. Ebonee Baker “con­sid­ered the MTA friends she had as fam­ily,” a friend said. Don­ald Wright said.

She also loved crabs, John­son said, and would have brought them to eat on the bus with her if she could have.

If other chil­dren on her chil­dren’s teams needed money to pay their fees, John­son said, Baker would some­times pay for them and would also drive them to prac­tice.

“She was a beau­ti­ful par­ent to her chil­dren,” said Shawn­taye Hink­son, an­other friend. “She was the best mother I ever met.”

Shareka Curbeam, Baker’s best friend since they went to Lake Clifton High School, said Baker met her hus­band, Ant­wan Baker, on the job. The cou­ple mar­ried in the sum­mer of 2010, she said.

Curbeam said she, Baker and other friends would go out for a ladies’ night about once a month.

“Any time some­body had a birth­day party, she’s there; any time there was an event she was there,” Curbeam said.

She also liked to dance and lis­ten to Bal­ti­more club mu­sic, and would go to Ravens tail­gate par­ties.

“She was al­ways crack­ing jokes and laugh­ing,” John­son said. “She was never down. If you were hav­ing a rough day she would come and make you laugh.”

But Baker spent most of her time work­ing or with her chil­dren, her friends said.

Char­von Davis met Baker 11 years ago when they were hired by the MTA. Baker had picked up a part-time job at BWI Thur­good Mar­shall Air­port to get her CDL li­cense so that she could start driv­ing busses, Davis said.

Davis said Baker was “sweet,” and they clicked im­me­di­ately.

“She was just some­one who you could call if you were hav­ing a hard time,” Davis said. “She would lis­ten and give you ad­vice. She was just a great per­son.”

COURTESY OF SHAREKA CURBEAM

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