BUTLER (KDKA) – A judge sentenced a bus driver today in connection with a deadly crash involving a freight train in Butler County.
Frank Schaffner was given house arrest and community service for his role in the accident in in Evans City in April of 2013.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I made a mistake. I’m sorry.”
That’s what Frank Schaffner said as he left the Butler County courtroom in tears, a broken and heavy-hearted man. Not because of his sentence of house arrest, but because of what happened last April to passengers on his bus.
“They were my friends, my dead friends for two and a half years, all were my friends,” he said.
Schaffner, 60, of Butler Township, pled guilty to two counts of involuntary manslaughter and eight counts of reckless endangerment over what happened at a railroad crossing in Evans City.
On April 26, Schaffner was driving a 12-seat bus for Butler Area Rural Transit; he did not stop at the railroad crossing and a freight train hit the bus.
Two people were killed, 91-year-old Claudette Miller and 88-year-old John Burkett. Eight others were injured, many severely.
Schaffner says at one point one of the passengers yelled to him that the train was coming, but says a radio was on, and when he heard him, it was too late.
“Somebody finally yelled. And I looked up and the train was about 70 feet away,” Schaffner said. “I hit the accelerator. I tried to get across the tracks.”
Many of the family members who lost loved ones on the bus read victim impact statements about their loss and how they did not hate Schaffner, but remain angry because of his negligence.
Schaffner says he relives the accident several times a week and will need psychiatrist treatment for the rest of his life.
He was sentenced to one year of house arrest, four years of probation and 400 hours of community service.