Bus Driver Under Investigation In Deadly Evans City Train-Bus Crash
EVANS CITY (KDKA/AP) – A freight train and a BART bus collided in Evans City, killing one elderly woman, and injuring several others.
The accident happened at the crossing at Maple Avenue, and there is no crossing guard at the intersection where the accident happened.
91-year-old, Claudette Miller was killed when the bus was struck by the train. Miller lived in the tiny Borough of Callery, not far from the crash site.
A week after the accident, investigators are looking for new explanations into a cause.
“The fog was extremely bad that day,” Attorney Michael Pawk says. “Visibility was about 150 feet.”
It’s not weather conditions authorities are looking at right now.
Investigators got a search warrant to evaluate the contents of two pill bottles found inside the bus – and to do toxicology tests on blood levels of the bus driver, 59-year old Frank Schaeffner.
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Miller’s niece, Connie Simpson, says her aunt “Det” lived in Callery for many years.
“My mother has fond memories of her,” Simpson says. “She was a nice lady. Sorry she had to end her 90 years of life with such tragedy.”
Reverend Bob Goossen of the Crestview Community Church, says Miller was a pround member of the church.
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“She loved the church and she loved the lord,” Goossen says. “It was a marvelous life that we’ll now celebrate next week.”
10 people were injured in the crash. Some of those injured are developmentally disabled.
They were traveling on a BART bus, which is operated through the County of Butler, to appointments and activities.
Seven injured remain in the hospital, three have been treated and released.
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The train reportedly hit the bus, spun it around, dragging the bus more than 15-feet.
Three men and a woman were being treated in the Allegheny General Hospital emergency room in Pittsburgh, said hospital spokesman Dan Laurent.
Ninety-one-year-old Claudette Miller from Callery, Pa. was pronounced dead at Allegheny County Hospital this afternoon.
Chief Trauma surgeon, Dr. Allan Philp said Miller died from blunt head trauma. “She looked to have been thrown around,” the Surgeon told KDKA’s Brenda Waters.
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Police said the BART bus was on its way to a program known as Lifesteps.
A Lifesteps official did not immediately return a call for comment, but the facility’s website said it is a nonprofit that has operated since 1923. Lifesteps “services for children, families, adults with special needs and seniors are designed to encourage growth, independence, confidence and dignity,” the website said.
The transit agency’s website indicates it partners with the Alliance For Nonprofit Resources, a social service agency based in the county seat of Butler, to provide reduced-fee transportation for people with disabilities. Neither agency immediately returned calls Friday.
The transit agency’s website said it operates 17 wheelchair-accessible buses that make about 300 trips a day, six days a week.
Friday afternoon, state police conducted a reenactment to try and figure out how the crash happened.
“When the trains go by– back and forth– they blow their whistles and that’s it,” neighbor John Berninger says.
Authorities say toxicology reports will be the next part of the investigation
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