Bus driver put on leave while crash is probed 3 still in hospital after wreck on I-95

November 26, 1995|By Lisa Respers | Lisa Respers,SUN STAFF

The driver of a Greyhound bus that crashed on Interstate 95 Friday injuring all 38 aboard and halting traffic for more than two hours has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation, officials said yesterday.

Passengers have said they believe driver Ernest Harris, 33, of Southport, N.C., was fatigued at the time of the 9:23 a.m. crash. Marty Heires, spokesman for Greyhound, said Mr. Harris will remain on unpaid leave while the company interviews passengers and reviews police reports.

"He has been taken out of service," said Mr. Heires. "He will be on leave until we complete our internal investigation, and that should take about a week."

He declined to discuss Mr. Harris' driving record with Greyhound, saying company policy prohibits releasing that information.

Three passengers remained in the hospital yesterday. Virginia Smith of Long Island, N.Y., was listed in fair condition at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center. Margarita Horak, 55, of Corpus Christi, Texas, and Rosemary Campbell, 46, of St. Petersburg, Fla., were both listed in stable condition at the Christiana Hospital Medical Center of Delaware.

Mr. Harris, who has been a driver with Greyhound for 5 1/2 years, was treated for minor injuries and released late Friday night.

The bus, headed for New York, veered off the road and ended up on its side across the shoulder and slow lane north of the exit for Route 272 near North East.

Officials said Mr. Harris boarded the bus in Fayetteville, N.C., shortly before 1 a.m. Friday and was running slightly behind schedule to complete the 579-mile trek to New York. A driver on a "long-haul route" such as the one Mr. Harris was traveling does not work the 24 hours before starting a shift, Mr. Heires said.

"They can drive up to 10 hours within a 15-hour segment," Mr. Heires said. "They are required to take breaks."

Passengers said the bus made a rest stop in Baltimore less than two hours before the accident.

Tfc. Earnest Tulles of the state police said the Cecil County state's attorney's office will determine whether to file charges based on the conditions of the most seriously injured passengers and the results of police investigations.

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