Mass. police: No decision on charges in bus crash

AP News
Posted: Feb 04, 2013 5:13 PM
Mass. police: No decision on charges in bus crash

BOSTON (AP) — Police said Monday they have not decided whether to file charges or issue citations in connection with a weekend bus crash that injured 35 people who were part of a group from Pennsylvania visiting Harvard University.

A 17-year-old remained in critical condition and several other people were hospitalized with serious injuries. Police have not released their names.

The Calvary Coach bus slammed into a 10-foot-high overpass in Boston on Saturday night while returning to the Philadelphia area. The group included high school students and chaperones from a Destined for a Dream Foundation group based in Bristol, Pa.

State police spokesman David Procopio said Monday that the investigation continues and no decisions have been made on whether to charge or cite the bus driver, Samuel J. Jackson.

Destined for A Dream provides opportunities for at-risk youth in the Philadelphia area. The group's executive director, Erica Waller-Hill, said the trip was the organization's 15th college tour in four years.

Waller-Hill declined to comment on the conditions of the injured, but she said she hopes everyone keeps them in their prayers.

"This is very difficult," she said in an interview Monday. "They are all my babies, all of those students."

Ray Talmedge, owner of the Philadelphia-based bus company, told WCAU-TV that Jackson looked down at his GPS and looked back up and saw the bridge but was too close to avoid hitting it. Talmedge declined to comment when reached by The Associated Press on Monday.

A listing for Jackson, who was not injured, rang unanswered Monday. Massachusetts state police said they could not comment on whether Jackson was looking at his GPS.

Some passengers were trapped for more than an hour as rescue crews worked to free them.

Authorities said the bus did not belong on Soldier's Field Road, a major artery along the Charles River with a 10-foot height limit. Signs warning of the height restriction are "all over the place," said Steve MacDonald, a spokesman for the Boston Fire Department.

The Facebook page of the Destined for a Dream Foundation said the trip to Harvard was to "visit the campus, sit with the office of cultural advancement, followed by a tour of the campus ... followed by Harvard Square (shopping, eating, site seeing...etc...) This should be a fun time for all!"

The accident caused only cosmetic damage to the bridge and road, which was reopened Sunday.

A spokeswoman for the state Department of Conservation and Recreation, which oversees the roadway and adjacent parkland, said raising the overpass heights would be impractical due to the cost and also because re-engineering the bridges would encroach on the scenic Charles River Esplanade, site of the renowned Boston Pops July 4th concert and other events.

The spokeswoman, SJ Port, said the agency plans to start a public information campaign later this week to remind motorists about the height restrictions.

The department had already planned the campaign for the spring but plans to move it up in light of the bus accident, Port said.