At the MTA, ‘it’s go­ing to be a tough time’

Baltimore Sun - - DEADLY BUS CRASH - Bal­ti­more Sun re­porters Tim Pru­dente and Kevin Rec­tor con­trib­uted to this ar­ti­cle.

Depart­ment and the Na­tional Trans­porta­tion Safety Board were ex­am­in­ing the bro­ken pieces of the two buses at an undis­closed lo­ca­tion.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors have in­ter­viewed some of the 10 peo­ple who were in­jured, po­lice spokesman T.J. Smith said. He de­clined to dis­cuss what they said.

Smith said de­tec­tives were “still ver­i­fy­ing the vi­a­bil­ity” of any footage that can be pulled off a cam­era re­cov­ered from the school bus.

He said in­ves­ti­ga­tors have not de­ter­mined how fast the buses were mov­ing be­fore the crash, but it’s clear from the im­pact they were mov­ing “at a pretty good rate of speed.”

“If you saw that de­struc­tion, it cer­tainly wasn’t caused by a slow-mov­ing ve­hi­cle,” Smith said.

In other de­vel­op­ments Wed­nes­day, it was learned that the school bus com­pany has been sus­pended from pro­vid­ing char­ter bus rides in Mary­land since last year.

A spokes­woman for the state Public Ser­vice Com­mis­sion said the sus­pen­sion, for fail­ing to re­port and pay rev­enue to the state, doesn’t pre­vent AAAf­ford­able Trans­porta­tion LLC from con­tract­ing with Bal­ti­more City Public Schools to trans­port stu­dents.

The driver of the school bus had con­vic­tions for as­sault, vi­o­lat­ing pro­tec­tive or­ders and ve­hi­cle regis­tra­tion vi­o­la­tions, ac­cord­ing to on­line court records.

Judges in Howard County and Bal­ti­more is­sued pro­tec­tive or­ders against driver Glenn R. Chap­pell in do­mes­tic-vi­o­lence cases in 2011 and 2012. Chap­pell was found guilty of vi­o­lat­ing pro­tec­tive or­ders three times be­tween 2012 and 2013, and pleaded guilty to sec­ond-de­gree as­sault in De­cem­ber 2012.

The As­so­ci­ated Press re­ported that Chap­pell lost a civil case over hit­ting a parked car in Bal­ti­more in 2008. Na­tion­wide In­sur­ance said in its com­plaint that Chap­pell’s ve­hi­cle “veered from the road­way” and struck the car, the AP re­ported. The com­pany al­leged that he was neg­li­gent for “fail­ing to pay full time and at­ten­tion to the road­way, op­er­at­ing at ex­ces­sive speed, fail­ing to main­tain con­trol of his ve­hi­cle, fail­ing to avoid col­lid­ing with other ve­hi­cles.”

Au­thor­i­ties re­leased the names of five of the six crash vic­tims. They with­held the name of a 46-year-old pas­sen­ger on the MTA bus whose fam­ily had not yet been no­ti­fied of her death.

The driver of the MTA bus, Ebonee Baker, 33, was a mother of four who had dreamed of be­com­ing a bus driver since she was hired as a fare in­spec­tor in 2005.

Chap­pell, 67, en­cour­aged neigh­bor­hood kids to stay in school and gave them money in the sum­mer to buy snow­balls, a friend said.

Cherry Denise Yar­bor­ough, 51, of the Park Heights neigh­bor­hood of Bal­ti­more worked at the state Depart­ment of Health and Men­tal Hy­giene and was de­scribed by her mother as a de­voted daugh­ter.

Ter­rance Lee Casey, 52, of the Pleas­ant View Gardens neigh­bor­hood was re­mem­bered by his son as “strong, fam­ily-ori­ented, funny, hard­work­ing, al­ways in a good spirit.”

Ger­ald Hol­loway, 51, of the Pen Lucy neigh­bor­hood worked as a main­te­nance em­ployee at For­est Haven Nurs­ing and Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion in Ca­tonsville, where his boss said he was warm, kind and com­pas­sion­ate.

By Wed­nes­day after­noon, a memo­rial had sprung up along the side of Fred­er­ick Av­enue. Sev­eral white­boards were at­tached to a fence with red Sharpies hang­ing from strings to al­low mourn­ers to leave their thoughts. Peo­ple left dozens of flow­ers, stuffed an­i­mals and bal­loons.

As night fell, hun­dreds gath­ered at the makeshift memo­rial. Many were dressed in pur­ple or car­ried pur­ple and black bal­loons to honor Baker, a de­voted Bal­ti­more Ravens fan. Dozens of MTA em­ploy­ees showed up in their uni­forms.

They lit can­dles and waved and cheered pass­ing buses — some of them on the No. 10 route that Baker was driv­ing when she was killed. They briefly blocked Fred­er­ick Av­enue to traf­fic, prayed, re­leased bal­loons and ob­served a mo­ment of si­lence.

MTA Ad­min­is­tra­tor Paul Com­fort said the en­tire or­ga­ni­za­tion was griev­ing.

“This is the big­gest tragedy I think the MTA has had in at least 25 or 30 years or more,” he said. “It’s go­ing to be a tough time — it’s go­ing to take us a while to come back.”

Sean Cum­mings, who worked with Baker as a bus driver, said pas­sen­gers ex­pressed con­do­lences to him through­out the day Wed­nes­day.

“Ev­ery­one gets on the bus and gives me a hug, gives me a kiss, no­body’s com­plain­ing,” he said. “Even peo­ple stand­ing on the cor­ner, they run across, they didn’t want to get on the bus. They just wanted to give me Cathy Fulcher takes a photo of the makeshift memo­rial at the scene of Tues­day’s fa­tal bus crash. Fulcher worked at The For­est Haven with Ger­ald Hol­loway, who died on the bus. a hand­shake and give me a hug and say, ‘Sorry for the loss of your co-worker.’ ”

Mourn­ers left mes­sages for all the vic­tims.

“God bless the fam­i­lies and give them peace,” one mes­sage read.

“MTA #280 To my lov­ing sis­ter gone too soon,” said an­other.

And an­other: “Cherry — You have been a won­der­ful friend and co­worker. Al­ways so kind and giv­ing. I will never for­get your kind­ness and gen­eros­ity. You will be missed.”

Ch­eryl Askins and Coleen Har­rell didn’t know any of the vic­tims. But they stopped by Wed­nes­day to pay their re­spects and write con­do­lences on the boards.

“I ride the No. 10 bus, me and my kids, in the morn­ing,” Askins said. “It could have been us on the bus. I just thank God that it wasn’t us. You’re here to­day and gone to­mor­row. And this was just a tragedy.”

Three pa­tients re­mained hos­pi­tal­ized Wed­nes­day at Mary­land Shock Trauma Cen­ter, one in crit­i­cal con­di­tion, po­lice said. The oth­ers were in fair and se­ri­ous con­di­tion.

Two women were dis­charged Wed­nes­day, ac­cord­ing to Univer­sity of Mary­land Med­i­cal Sys­tem spokes­woman Lisa Clough.

Two other pas­sen­gers were taken to Saint Agnes Hospi­tal, and one was taken to Si­nai Hospi­tal.

The school bus was trav­el­ing east on Fred­er­ick Av­enue when it crashed into a Ford Mus­tang po­lice said. It then con­tin­ued on and struck the MTA bus near Monastery Av­enue, po­lice said.

“I didn’t see it com­ing,” said Kennedy, the in­jured pas­sen­ger.

She said she re­mem­bers only walk­ing onto the bus, greet­ing the driver, swip­ing her pass, tak­ing a seat and talk­ing to a woman next to her, an ac­quain­tance she knows from her morn­ing and evening com­mute.

When she came to, she said, emer­gency re­spon­ders were on the scene.

“They had to pry open the door and they had to take me by my arms and lift me up,” she said.

She said she was dis­charged Tues­day night from the Johns Hop­kins Hospi­tal.

Kennedy spoke in the of­fice of at­tor­ney Wil­liam H. “Billy” Mur­phy Jr. She used a cane to walk, and said she sus­tained a frac­tured jaw, a lac­er­a­tion on her fore­head, bruis­ing and other in­juries.

Kennedy said she did not know what might have caused the crash. She and Mur­phy asked any­one with in­for­ma­tion to come for­ward. “We need to know why it hap­pened,” she said. “[I want] to get jus­tice for the ones who passed away and the ones that are still alive, that made it like I have.”

Po­lice re­leased record­ings of 911 calls that cap­tured the chaotic mo­ments im­me­di­ately af­ter the crash.

A passerby who gave his name as Cameron de­scribed the scene al­most as it un­folded. “The school bus was go­ing 90,” he told the op­er­a­tor. “The school bus tore off the street and kept on mov­ing.”

KEVIN RICHARD­SON/BAL­TI­MORE SUN

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