On November 1, 2016, a fatal bus accident between a school bus and a Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) bus in Baltimore left six people dead and 10 more injured. The Baltimore bus crash was reported just before 7:00 a.m. on Frederick Avenue and Monastery Avenue.
According to witnesses, the school bus was going east on Frederick when it hit a Louden Park Cemetery wall, rear-ended a Ford Mustang passenger vehicle, then ricocheted off of a cement pillar at the cemetery entrance. Seconds later, the school bus crossed into oncoming traffic where it slammed into the driver’s side of the MTA bus.
The drivers of both buses were killed in the accident, along with four passengers aboard the MTA bus. Ten people were taken to area hospitals with injuries ranging from minor to critical. The day after the crash, one person was still listed in critical condition, one was in serious condition and another was in fair condition. Seven others were treated and released.
No children were on the school bus at the time of the wreck, as the vehicle was on its way to make the first pickup of the day. Officials have said there was an aide aboard the school bus who survived the accident with minor injuries. Investigators are hoping to interview the aide to learn more about what happened in the moments prior to the wreck.
What Caused the School Bus Accident in Southwest Baltimore?
The Baltimore Police Department and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are conducting investigations into the tragic Baltimore bus crash. Officials said days after the crash that it is still too early to speculate on the cause of the collision. It will likely take the NTSB a year or so to finish its investigation and come to a conclusion on the cause of the crash.
What is known at this stage in the investigation is that the school bus driver did not brake prior to the crash with the MTA bus, which could point to several issues:
- Driver fatigue or Distracted Driving – Both of these are common factors in bus accidents. According to Limousine, Charter & Tour Magazine, fatigue among motorcoach drivers is the primary “uncontrolled risk” in the bus industry and the primary cause of most severe crashes.
- Incapacitating Medical Event – Another possible scenario could involve a medical condition that resulted in the bus driver losing control of the vehicle. However, accidents involving catastrophic medical events are rare (contributing to less than two percent of all accidents, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration), although when they do happen, drivers, are at greater risk of severe injury or death.
- Mechanical Failure – School buses need to be serviced and maintained just like any other vehicle. Occasionally, bus companies fail to perform inspections and service on a regular basis, which opens the door to possible mechanical failures.
Owner of School Bus in Fatal Baltimore Wreck Was Suspended from Charter Services
The school bus was owned by AAAfordable Transportation LLC, a West Baltimore bus company under contract with the city of Baltimore to transport students. The bus company is one of seven that the city has contracted to provide school bus services. According to the Baltimore Sun, AAAfordable Transportation has held the city contract since 2010.
The company has been suspended from providing charter bus services in the state of Maryland since last year, according to the Baltimore Sun. While the suspension does not affect the company’s standing with the city of Baltimore for school bus services, it does raise questions about AAAfordable Transportation’s business practices.
According to records from the Public Service Commission, AAAfordable Transportation’s charter bus authority was suspended last October for failing to report revenues as required by the state of Maryland.
AAAfordable Transportation has had a clean safety record over the last two years. However, a company bus was involved in a crash four years ago that left at least 13 people with injuries.
Victims of Baltimore Bus Crash Speak About the Tragedy
Shawn Braxton was driving his Ford Mustang to work early in the morning when he noticed headlights in his rearview mirror. At first, he didn’t think anything of it, then, when he looked back a second time, the headlights were right on top of him.
Mr. Braxton began to steer his car to the right, but there was nothing he could do to avoid being hit by the school bus. He let go of the steering wheel, tucked his head down, and waited for the car to come to a stop. When he got out of the car, it was an unrecognizable shell of twisted steel.
Miraculously, Mr. Braxton was able to walk away from the accident, which is something that he is still processing. “I walked away from it and that’s just hard for me to comprehend mentally and then emotionally, it’s a battle,” Braxton said of the crash.
“You have to deal with the mental and emotional side of it afterward knowing that you were part of something where people passed away.”
Matt Feldman, 30, was driving on Frederick Avenue when he came upon the scene of the Baltimore bus crash moments after it happened. He told media outlets that it looked like explosives had torn both buses apart.
Mr. Feldman approached the front of the MTA bus, where he found a woman trapped in the wreckage, screaming for help. He and another bystander moved pieces of the shattered windshield and worked to try and free the woman until first responders arrived. Mr. Feldman moved aside and watched as firefighters cut away pieces of the MTA bus and were able to free the victim a short time later.
Police Identify Deceased MTA Bus Crash Victims
The Baltimore Police Department has identified three of the four MTA bus passengers killed in the crash as 52-year-old Terence Lee Casey from the Pleasant View Gardens neighborhood, 51-year-old Gerald Holloway of Pen Lucy and 51-year-old Cherry Denise Yarborough of Park Heights. The fourth deceased passenger, a 46-year-old woman, has not yet been identified by law enforcement, as they continue to attempt to notify her next of kin.
The school bus driver who perished in the crash was identified as 67-year-old Glenn R. Chappell. Ebonee Danell Baker, 33, was the driver of the MTA bus.
Bus Accident Lawyer
If you or a loved one were harmed in the Baltimore bus crash, it is in your best interest to speak with a bus accident lawyer about your claim. Bus companies and their drivers have a duty to operate their vehicles in a safe manner. This includes making sure that buses meet federal safety standards and drivers are fully trained.
When bus companies fail to maintain their vehicles or their drivers are negligent behind the wheel, passengers have the right to seek compensation by filing a bus crash lawsuit.
For many years, the law firm of Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman has worked to bring justice to victims of negligence and recklessness by bus operators and has long been an advocate for bus safety and improved regulation. We are determined to make sure every aspect of the Baltimore crash is examined thoroughly, so all of those affected by this tragedy can seek justice.