BALTIMORE (WJZ) —Federal and local authorities are continuing to investigate what led to a bus collision that left six people dead and 10 others injured on Tuesday morning in Baltimore.
Investigators say a school bus was traveling eastbound near the 3800 block of Frederick Avenue when it hit a Mustang, then struck a pillar at Loudon Park Cemetery. Finally, it hit the oncoming No. 10 MTA bus from Dundalk to Catonsville.
“It is with great sadness that I express condolences on behalf of the city to the families that were impacted by this tragic bus accident today,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. ” You realize that Baltimore is a big city but also a small town when something like this happens there are so many connections to the individuals who were lost today.”
Six people were killed in the wreck, including bus drivers of both the school bus and the the MTA bus, officials said. There were no children on the school bus at the time of the crash.
Baltimore Police spokesperson T.J. Smith identified the six victims killed only by age:
- 51-year-old man
- 46-year-old woman
- 33-year-old (Ebonee Baker, MTA bus driver)
- 67-year-old man (school bus driver)
- 51-year-old woman
- 32-year-old man
“This was a grueling and gruesome process of removing bodies, all six people were dead on the scene,” Smith said. “Our homicide investigators were out here because this is an extraordinary incident. Rarely do we deal with mass casualty situations that involve this many deaths at one scene. So we brought out additional personnel to support our crash scene. This is a crash investigation, not a criminal investigation.”
During a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, MTA spokesperson Paul Shepherd confirmed the death of one of their own.
“We are really wounded but we’re going to come out of this stronger,” said Shepherd . “We want to thank you all for being here. We can confirm, sadly, that our operator was among the fatalities in this terrible accident.”
WJZ has learned the identify of the MTA bus driver is that of 33-year-old Ebonee Baker.
Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis expressed his sadness on Tuesday’s tragic event.
“They’re on their way to make a living, they’re on their way to the job and they’re on their way to support their families,” Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said. “Our hearts and prayers go out to them, to their families, to their co-workers as well.”
Police say the school bus is contracted to Baltimore City through AA Affordable Transportation. The bus–occupied only by the driver and a school aid– was on its way to pick up 18 special needs children. The driver died in the collision.
NTSB Investigator Jennifer Morrison says her team is gathering information on the crash and will remain on the scene for the rest of the week.
“We expect to be in the area for the remainder of the week. During that time, we will continue to gather factual information with the goal of ultimately determining the cause of the crash, and issuing safety recommendations aimed at preventing future crashes and fatalities,” Morrison said.
WITNESSES RECOUNT CRASH
Shawn Braxton of Columbia, Maryland, says he was driving to work Tuesday morning when his silver Ford Mustang was hit. The collision crushed the rear of the car and forced its nose into the pavement
“I just look up and I still see the bus going down the street and at that point I just had to close my eyes and try to get myself together,” Braxton said. “And then people came into the car and started helping me out.”
“When I got out that’s when I could hear the people yelling, ‘Get me out of here,'” said Matthew Feldman, who was on the scene before first responders.
Feldmann didn’t think twice before jumping in to help.
“First we tried to go in through the door but every time we would peel the door open she was right there and it was pinching something and she started screaming real bad. So then we had to stop and me and the guy went through the front and he started grabbing the front windshield and we lifted it up off of her,” Feldman said.
According to a statement from Baltimore City Schools, seven different vendors are contracted to provide transportation for students. The bus in question provided service to 18 elementary school students who receive curb-to-curb transportation from their homes to school. Starting tomorrow, those children will be transported by a bus owned by city schools.
“At this time of tragedy, our hearts and thoughts are with the families, friends, and loved ones of those killed and injured,” the statement says. “We hope for the speedy and full recovery of all those injured.”
10 VICTIMS INJURED
Ten people total were taken from the scene to local hospitals, their injuries ranging from minor to critical:
- 40-year-old man in critical condition
- 29-year-old woman suffered minor injuries
- 38-year-old woman suffered minor injuries
- 25-year-old woman suffered minor injures
- 32-year-old woman suffered minor injuries
- 23-year-old woman suffered minor injuries
- 29-year-old woman in critical condition
- 36-year-old man suffered minor injuries
- 52-year-old man suffered minor injures
- 44-year-old woman suffered minor injuries
Deborah M. Stein, Chief of Trauma and Director Neurotrauma Critical Care at the University of Maryland R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center, said her team is treat five of the victims.
“We are currently treating five patients,” she said. “One is critically injured, one is in serious, and the other three are fortunately in stable condition… They are actually relatively generic injuries for what we see in motor vehicle crashes. I can’t give any details on the actual specifics of the injuries of the patients, but injuries to facial bones, injuries to spine, spinal column, some visceral injuries as well.”
“At least two of the patients will certainly be staying with us I would anticipate another patient will be admitted for observation,” Stein went on to say. “The fourth patient will likely stay for a short period of time. I believe one patient will be discharged… Given the nature of the incident, we certainly had all hands on deck. The collaboration and cooperation from our colleagues in the emergency department was really quite extraordinary. It was right at change of shift, there was not a single person who left the building after finishing their night shift. They all stayed to make sure if their help was going to be needed.”
“It’s the worst I have ever seen,” Baltimore Police spokesman T.J. Smith said.
CAUSE OF THE CRASH
Police say it is possible the school bus driver had a medical emergency because they have no evidence the bus tried to stop before hitting the car and the MTA bus.
The school bus “basically ripped the entire driver’s side off” the MTA bus, Smith said. “It literally looks like a bomb exploded in the bus and it’s catastrophic damage. We did not observe any type of skid marks on the road, which leads us to believe there was no type of deceleration, but we don’t know all of those answers at this point in time.”
FULL POLICE PRESS CONFERENCE
Governor Larry Hogan released this statement about the accident this morning:
“The First Lady and I are deeply saddened to hear of the horrific crash this morning in Southwest Baltimore involving a school bus and an MTA commuter bus. Our deepest condolences go out to the victims and their families in the wake of this tragedy. We will continue to pray for those who were injured, as well as the first responders who worked swiftly and continue to care for the injured.
Our administration gives our full support to the Baltimore City Police Department as they investigate, and we are prepared to offer any state assistance necessary.”
Baltimore Police are asking for any witnesses to come forward with information.
NTSB Investigator Morrison says they will be on the scene for the remainder of the week.