PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Allegheny County President Judge Jeffrey Manning, hearing the case without a jury, saw pictures of how the bus Juliann Maier was driving ended up down a hillside below I-279 in September of 2014.
She was seriously injured and has filed a separate federal lawsuit. But first, she faces criminal charges including reckless endangerment.READ MORE: Community Helping Hampton Township Family After Home Damaged By Tornado
Thomas Frauens also faces reckless endangerment charges but also felony charges of leaving the scene of an accident.
Surveillance video shows how closely the buses were from the perspective of his bus.
Prosecutors say the buses collided. They say damage to Frauens bus wasn’t visible when he first left the garage. Frauens says he never knew the buses collided.
And this is what he told supervisor Tim DeLuigi in a phone call right after the crash.
Frauens: “Was you calling about another bus on that road? On 279?”
DeLuigi: “Another bus involved in that incident.”
Frauens: “I wasn’t involved but I guess she was beside me.”
Eyewitnesses says they’ll never forget what they saw.READ MORE: Churchill Residents Ramp Up Protests Against Proposed Amazon Distribution Center
“As I watch this accident occur I’m going, it’s just scary,” said Dr. Kirin D’Ascenzo, who saw the accident. “You sit back and I count my blessings because I know somebody was watching over me. If I’d have been five seconds slower I could have been hit. I could have died.”
The judge also heard the emotion in the voice of eyewitness Karen Marchetti when she called 911.
Karen Marchetti: “Oh my God. Oh my God. The bus went over the guardrail.”
Operator: “Port Authority Police.”
Operator: “Allegheny County connecting for a crash involving two of your buses. Go ahead caller.”
Karen Marchetti: “On Venture Street just at the merge going south they were cris crossed sort of looking like they were swerving and one went over the hillside.”
But the defense blames Maier’s bus.
“She was not playing tag, she was not engaged in horseplay,” said Maier’s defense attorney Joel Sansone. “She wasn’t racing wth anyone. It’s very likely because of the terrible condition of the brake pedal on that bus that she thought that she was on the brake when she was actually on the gas pedal….she was driving a bus that should never have been on the road it should never have been out on Pittsburgh streets where many people could have been killed. And Julie is the scapegoat for somebody or some people who let this bus go forward when they knew it was a death trap.”
Testimony resumes tomorrow and could last several days. The prosecution expects to call 25 witnesses and the defense expects to call 18.MORE NEWS: Mail Carrier Hit, Killed By Driver Of Vehicle In Greene County