- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Baltimore police, state officials and federal investigators sifted through twisted metal and shattered concrete in search of the cause of a crash involving a school bus and a commuter bus that killed six people early Tuesday in southwest Baltimore.

“It literally looks like a bomb exploded on the bus,” said T.J. Smith, a spokesman for the Baltimore Police Department. “It was catastrophic damage.”

No children were on the school bus, but its driver was killed in the collision, officials said. An aide on the school bus was injured and taken to a hospital.

Mr. Smith said the school bus was traveling east on Frederick Avenue at about 7 a.m., when it first struck a Ford Mustang and then a pillar at Loudon Park Cemetery before crossing into oncoming traffic and slamming into the driver’s side of a Maryland Transit Administration bus. There were no skid marks or other indications that the driver tried to slow the school bus.

Five people ages 32 to 67 were killed on the MTA bus. The fatalities included the driver. The remaining riders were transported to hospitals with injuries that ranged from minor to critical, officials said.

“MTA is a family, and our family is really wounded today,” said MTA spokesman Paul Shepard. “This tragic day is something you just never plan for.”

Mr. Smith said police would not yet be releasing the names of those killed in the crash. He added that it was a “grueling and gruesome process of identifying the bodies.”

Investigators have recovered some recording equipment from one of the buses that might contain video or other data, Mr. Smith said, but he didn’t know the condition of the equipment.

The National Transportation Safety Board is looking into the crash. NTSB investigator Jennifer Morrison said eight members of the agency’s field office in Washington were on the scene and that analysts from other regional offices would assist.

Ms. Morrison said the NTSB investigation would continue through the week and would focus on motor carrier operations, human performance, vehicle factors, highway design and crash survivability.

Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said he was deploying every resource available and that the investigation was still in preliminary stages. He said it was a “complicated crash scene” and that it would take some time to determine the cause.

“Obviously, folks who are on a bus at this time of the morning are working folks. They’re on their way to make a living,” Commissioner Davis said. “They’re on their way to jobs. And they’re on their way to support their families. Complicated crash scene.”

School officials said the school bus involved in a fatal crash was contracted from AA Affordable Transportation, a company based in Baltimore. Federal records show that the transportation company had no violations or other crashes reported over a recent two-year span. A representative of the company declined to comment.

The bus provided curb-to-curb service to 18 elementary school students, the Baltimore public school system said in a statement. That service usually is provided to students who have special needs or are homeless.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said he was saddened to hear of the crash and was praying for the injured as well as the first responders.

“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,” Mr. Hogan said in a statement.

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