Chief Executive Officer Mark Donaghy said late Wednesday afternoon that the RTA so far has been unable to retrieve bus video.
“We believe this is due to a loss of power to our vehicle upon impact (the batteries were severed from the bus) and the fact that there is a time lag for the camera footage to actually record on the on-board system,” Donaghy said via email, adding they have not yet assessed the damage to the $1.4 million NexGen bus — one of four in the RTA’s fleet.
“The event (Tuesday) night was tragic and we are focused on completing an investigation and supporting law enforcement in their work associated with this incident,” Donaghy added. “The condition and support of those involved including our employee and the investigation are our priorities at the moment.”
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A sheriff’s office spokeswoman said Wednesday that the incident report and narrative were not yet available.
Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Jeremy Roy did say that “there were some actually horrific injuries to the kids that were in the back. Our investigators are looking into it right now. As of (Tuesday) night and (Wednesday) morning, they were both still in seriously critical condition, life-threatening injuries to those kids.”
Roy said there was visible evidence such as empty beer containers and statements from medics to suggest alcohol was a factor:
“If we feel at that point in time there’s enough probable cause to believe that the driver of the Cadillac was impaired or intoxicated at the time of the crash, then absolutely we’re going after him,” Roy said, adding that preliminary indications are that the two men in the Cadillac are the children’s father and uncle.
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Roy also said it did not appear the children were wearing safety belts: “The extent of injuries that the children suffered, it would lead me to believe they were not properly secured in the vehicle.”
A press release said preliminary investigation indicates that at 5:50 p.m. Tuesday a 1998 bronze Cadillac Deville was southbound on North Main Street when it went left of center near Julia Avenue, striking another vehicle.
The Cadillac driven by a 39-year-old male then struck the RTA bus that was northbound, causing it to veer off the right side of the roadway. The bus then re-entered the roadway and collided with a minivan also going northbound, according to the release.
The release said both the RTA bus and minivan traveled across northbound and southbound lanes, then down an embankment into the lot of an Auto Zone parking lot on North Main. The RTA bus then collided with an occupied vehicle that was pushed up against the store’s concrete barriers.
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“The Cadillac pulled out in front of it (the bus) and the RTA (driver) tried to swerve to miss it,” witness Michelle Smith told this news organization.
Smith said witnesses took two children from the Cadillac into the KFC to keep them warm while they waited for medics.
“There is a lot of people hurt,” the fourth 911 caller said, noting that one was a baby boy. “Somebody needs to get here right now.”
The driver and passenger in the car also were pulled out of the car onto the ground, Smith said.
Roy said there was a “ton of evidence” from the “very large crash scene.” The captain said the sheriff’s office is still getting statements and conducting search warrants.
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