Updated August 1
Two pedestrians were injured, one critically, when they were struck by a Vineyard Transit Authority bus Thursday night in Edgartown, according to Fire Chief Alex Schaeffer and other sources. A third person was injured when the bus came to a hard stop.
The injuries occurred on Church Street, where the VTA has one of its stops outside the visitors’ center.
Edgartown Police and Fire Departments, along with State Police, responded to the scene at 10:20 pm.
Two of the people have been released, and a third has been taken to a Boston hospital, Police Chief Bruce McNamee said. A week after the crash, police are refusing to release any names citing the ongoing investigation.
A State Police accident reconstruction team has been brought in to investigate.
The crash is also on film, because VTA buses have cameras.
Details of how it happened have not been released. Police interviewed the bus driver, who has not been identified, and he is cooperating. The chief said the driver passed a Breathalyzer test, and is also being urine-tested. Those results are not yet known.
Jimmy Alvarado, executive chef at Isola, said he was just leaving work before the accident. Smoking a cigarette, he crossed Church Street heading to his car when he heard a “loud bang.”
“It was pretty loud,” he said.
He turned around and saw people gather in the road. “As I got closer to the scene of the accident, there were two guys — both on the road. One of them was still on the sidewalk, like his head was on the sidewalk, because he fell and he hit … a pole there. The bus was in the middle of the street. So he was just laying there bleeding basically out of his head.”
Alvarado described the man with the head injury as conscious and vocally “in pain.”
The other victim lay in the road. “He was hurt, I guess, from the impact from the bus. I think he was going to be OK,” he said. Both men appeared to be in their mid-30s, he said.
“I told a couple people not to touch them and to leave them there,” he said. “The EMS got here pretty fast.”
Alvarado recalled the bus driver rushing out of the bus. “He was nervous and shaking the whole time,” he said.
Alvarado was stumped at how the accident happened. “They were crossing the street. How could you miss the bus?”
He was also jarred. “I was a bit shaken. I ride a motorcycle. So I’m like — anything can happen in an instant [if you] don’t pay attention.”
McNamee said Det. Dayce Moore and a trooper from the State Police accident reconstruction team will lead the investigation.
Three nurses who were nearby at the time of the accident rendered “invaluable aid” before EMS personnel arrived, McNamee said.
State Police cleared the bus, which was not electric, to be repaired and return to service Friday, VTA administrator Angie Grant told the Times over the phone call.
Grant also said the driver involved in the accident took a chemical test which came back negative. The driver, who was a seasonal employee, “chose to end his employment,” she said.
The Amalgamated Transit Union, a labor organization that is negotiating a contract between VTA drivers and their operations manager Transit Connection Inc. (TCI), offered its sympathies to the victims of the crash in a statement Wednesday.
“On behalf of VTA operators and members of the Amalgamated Transit Union, we would like to offer our sincerest sympathies to the victims involved in the Thursday, July 26th crash involving a VTA vehicle. Out of respect to the victims and their families, we will not comment on the details of this specific tragedy at this point. We feel compelled, however, to inform the public that we have warned VTA management in the past of our fear that crashes similar to this would becoming increasingly likely to occur. We believe changes can be made to prevent them, but those changes require addressing serious, systemic issues plaguing the VTA and the contractor it uses to manage the service, Transit Connection Inc. (TCI). Mismanagement, mistreatment of workers, and especially a lack of proper safety precautions have created a perfect storm that will inevitably lead to more tragedies,” the statement said.
Grant declined to comment on the union’s statement because she had not read it yet.
Brian Dowd contributed to this story. Story has been updated to include information from VTA and union. -Ed.