MTA bus rolls into car, trapping motorist

Woman jumps aside moments before crash

February 09, 1999|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

Gerry Sipes was loading the trunk of her car with files on Light Street in Baltimore yesterday when a man started screaming that a bus was barreling toward her. She jumped onto the sidewalk just in time.

A 28,000-pound Mass Transit Administration bus, whose brakes had failed, rear-ended an occupied green Honda Civic about 10 a.m. and pushed it under Sipes' black Toyota, stacking the cars like cordwood.

Marsha Netus, the driver of the Civic and Sipes' colleague, was trapped for about 15 minutes and had to be removed by firefighters. She was treated yesterday at Mercy Medical Center and released later in the afternoon.

"I heard a scream, and the bus hit the car and just kept sliding," said Sipes, who was loading her trunk in front of her office building at Light and Lombard streets. "It just slid underneath."

Netus and Sipes work at America Works of Maryland Inc., which helps welfare recipients find jobs.

The accident prompted police to close for 90 minutes several downtown streets, including southbound Light Street from Redwood Street to the Inner Harbor, and Mercer and Water streets. The crushed cars drew a crowd of onlookers.

"It does take your breath away when you first see it," said Kent Klopfenstein, the general manager of America Works, who reported that his injured employee suffered a bruised knee and a stiff neck. "I think she is appropriately shaken up."

MTA spokesman Frank Fulton said the bus driver had parked on the west side of Light Street because of brake problems. A work crew arrived and pumped air into the brake system. The driver then tried to maneuver the bus farther to the side of the road.

Fulton said the brakes failed, and the bus, empty except for the unidentified driver, drifted 40 feet and pushed the Honda under the Toyota. He said the bus has been towed to a repair yard.

Pub Date: 2/09/99

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