Six people were killed and 10 others injured after a commuter bus and a school bus collided in southwest Baltimore Tuesday morning in what authorities are calling a “significant wreck.”
No children were aboard the school bus which appeared to have been in a string of collisions before hitting an MTA commuter bus, Baltimore police said.
The bus was thought to be on its way to pick up a student when the final crash happened about 7 a.m. on Frederick Avenue near Monastery Avenue, police said.
The bus was from a private company, police said, and its driver was killed. An aide on the bus was injured.
The five others killed were on the MTA commuter bus which had 13 on board.
Images from the scene showed two mangled buses and debris in the roadway. In a morning briefing, Baltimore Police spokesman T.J. Smith said it “looked like a bomb” had exploded at the crash scene.
The Rev. Mike Murphy of St. Joseph’s Monastery, who lives about a block from the crash site, said he heard a loud thud at around 6:30 a.m. and then saw a stream of emergency responders on Frederick Avenue, a popular commuter road into the city.
“I heard the large bang,” said Murphy, and shortly after about six ambulances on Frederick Avenue “that were constantly taking people away.”
The early police investigation showed a chain of events involving the school bus.
Police said the school bus was headed east in the 3800 block of Frederick Road when it hit a gray Ford Mustang. The school bus then hit a pillar at a nearby cemetery and continued east and collided with the driver’s side of an MTA commuter bus.
The Mustang driver and eight people on the bus also were injured and taken to area hospitals.
The school bus is thought to have been headed to pick up a child about four or five blocks from the scene, police said. It was not immediately known where the child was headed.
The yellow bus involved in the crash usually picks up 18 elementary school students in the morning, according to a statement from Baltimore City Public Schools, which contracts the bus from a private company it identified as AA Affordable Transportation.
In a statement Tuesday afternoon, the city school system said the private bus provides “curb-to-curb transportation” and generally is offered for students who have special needs, speak English as a second language, are homeless or receive other specific services.
Starting Wednesday, the 18 children who would have been on the bus involved in Tuesday’s crash will be transported by a bus the city school system owns, the school system said.
“At this time of tragedy, our hearts and thoughts are with the families, friends, and loved ones of those killed and injured,” the school system said in a statement. “We hope for the speedy and full recovery of all those injured.”
The MTA bus runs from Dundalk to Catonsville, police said.
Officials cautioned that while there were six fatalities, that “number could change,” Smith said. “It’s a pretty horrific scene,” he said.
Yellow police tape stretched across Frederick Avenue as police paced the scene of the crash. The Mustang with a crumpled back end sat on one end of the road while the mangled buses sat at the other.
Officials with the University of Maryland Medical Center said it had received five patients at the shock-trauma division and its emergency room. Of those, one is in critical condition, one is in serious condition and three were stable, according to Dr. Deb Stein, chief of trauma.
It was not clear which vehicles the patients at the University of Maryland facility had been riding in at the time of the crash. Two other patients were taken to St. Agnes Healthcare, a spokeswoman at that hospital confirmed. It was not immediately clear where the remaining patients were taken.
Billal Jones watched the investigation unfold Tuesday morning, thankful he wasn’t on the commuter bus. Jones said he regularly takes the line from Dundalk to Catonsville to take his grandson to school — at about the same time the crash occurred.
“It scares me,” Jones said. “I’m glad I’m not part of that.”
Baltimore City Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said at a briefing that “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) described the crash in a statement as “horrific” and gave his condolences to the victims and their families. “We will continue to pray for those who were injured, as well as the first responders who worked swiftly and continue to care for the injured,” he said.
Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete K. Rahn also expressed condolences to the victims and praise for the emergency responders while adding that MTA employees “make safety a top priority every day as they deliver transportation throughout the Baltimore-Washington region.”