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CPs Lead Massive Response To Crash

By Douglas E. Heimburger
Staff Reporter

Campus Police were the first to arrive at the scene of a fatal crash of an MBTA bus into the Charles River Monday night almost directly in front of Killian Court.

The only fatality was the driver of the bus, Edward Bowman, 45, of Boston. Bowman was the only person aboard when his bus ran off Memorial Drive in front of Killian Court and plunged into the Charles River shortly after 10 p.m. Monday.

Eyewitnesses at the crash said the bus made a "straight line into the water" from Memorial Drive. Some said that the bus could not have been speeding at the time of the accident. The witnesses disagreed about what direction the bus was traveling at the time of the accident.

Multiple MIT police units responded to a call at 10:06 p.m. reporting the crash, according to Chief of Police Anne P. Glavin. MIT police also notified Cambridge and Boston police departments of the accident, she said.

The call for emergency assistance came from the MITemergency call box near Building 2, Glavin said.

MIT police who arrived on scene attempted to locate any victims in the water, but the officers "could not see anyone visible" in the water, Glavin said. Shortly after the MITpolice arrived, members of the Boston and Cambridge police and fire departments responded, as well as members of the MBTApolice, Massachusetts State Police, and the Massachusetts Emergency Management Authority.

The Physical Plant Emergency Response Group was activated to provide assistance, according to David M. Barber, confined space coordinator for Physical Plant. Since there could have been many victims, Physical Plant prepared to supply blankets and portable lighting to the rescue crews, Barber said.

Physical Plant did supply scuba gear to the diving teams, Physical Plant Operations Dispatcher Bill McCue said. "We had [the ERG] retrieve some things from the pool,"McCue.

"We were trying to lend whatever help we could," Glavin said.

Among the large number of spectators at the crash site were MITstudents, who heard the sirens of emergency workers responding to the incident.

"Iwas in MacGregor [when the accident occurred], and Iran out super fast," said Ashish K. Verma '99. Upon arriving at the scene, "Ididn't see any movement."

"We came to see what happened," said Robert C. Munroe '99. Munroe heard the sirens of the dozens of emergency vehicles coming to the scene of the crash.

Driver only person aboard bus

Boston Fire Department divers Tim McGuilliguth and Scott O'Neill pulled Bowman from the sunken bus around 11 p.m. Monday, 50 minutes after the crash. The divers performed CPRon Bowman before he was transported to Massachusetts General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 11:20 p.m., according to hospital spokesperson Pat A. Donovan.

O'Neill said that the cold and dark conditions made rescue efforts extremely difficult. "There was a half-inch [layer] of ice on the bus," he said. The entire bus, except for a small section at the rear, was submerged under the water.

An oil leak from the bus also made for hazardous conditions. The bus was not stable and was rocking from side to side as the divers were in the bus, State Police Sgt. Paul Maloney said. The bus was hoisted out of the river using a large crane and an MBTA tow truck Tuesday morning. It was towed to the MBTA's Charlestown yard, where state and MBTApolice will investigate the accident, said MBTAspokesperson Erin Harrington.

Driver off scheduled route

The bus involved in the incident should not have been on Memorial Drive, Harrington said. At the time, Bowman was driving bus route 57, which runs from Kenmore Square to Watertown. He was scheduled to return to the Albany Street garage at 9:14 p.m. after completing his route.

It is uncommon for buses to arrive late at MBTAgarages after completing their routes, said MBTAChief of Staff Philip Puccia. The driver "should have called in if he was late,"he said.

Bowman last spoke to a supervisor at Kenmore Square before beginning his last run to Watertown. The supervisor did not note anything abnormal at the time, Puccia said.

Bowman's path is unconfirmed after that point. Investigators have been able to determine that he completed his run to Watertown and was supposed to be headed back to the yard when the incident occurred, Harrington said.

"There are a lot of questions to ask and be answered," Harrington said. Investigators and crash reconstruction specialists from the MBTAare working on the scene, she said.

The presence of the large emergency response forces will further hinder the investigation into the incident, Pacino said. Marks revealing the true course of the bus's travel may have been destroyed, he added.

Aside from the possibility of the driver being lost, there was no reason for the bus to be on Memorial Drive, said Robert H. Prince, chief operating officer for the MBTA. The MBTA does not allow buses on Memorial Drive because the underpasses are only nine feet above road level while the buses are 10 feet 4 inches high, he said.

The driver of the bus had a clean driving record in his 10 years with the MBTA, Harrington said.

Blood-alcohol and drug tests are being performed on Bowman but will not be available for at least three weeks, Harrington said.

Bowman was an "exemplary employee," Prince said.

The bus was purchased in 1995 by the MBTAat a cost of $236,000. The type of bus involved, which was manufactured by Nova Corporation, has been "very dependable and reliable," Puccino said.