NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Twenty-five people were injured Monday evening after a Metropolitan Transit Authority bus driver passed out at the wheel and crashed into several vehicles on the Upper East Side, leaving passengers trapped inside.
Shortly after 7 p.m., witnesses said the driver of the BxM18 bus to Riverdale appeared to lose control as he headed north on Madison Avenue at 80th Street.
“I look up, and then I see him going faster, and he’s swerving towards the right, and he’s hitting cars. And I’m like, ‘Oh my God,’ and he’s hitting another one, and he hits another one,” said passenger Leslie Bautista.
Bautista said another passenger saw the driver breathing heavily before he passed out.
But the bus kept going, demolishing a sports utility vehicle that had to be towed away. The bus then rear-ended a taxi that had stopped at a red light, and pushed another car into a mangled fence, before a couple of passengers finally took control, police said.
The MTA confirmed that the driver lost consciousness.
Two passengers took it upon themselves to stop the bus, CBS 2’s Derricke Dennis reported.
“I think he passed out. Either he had an asthmatic attack or he had a heart attack. I’m not sure what happened to him,” said a man who had been on the bus. “But when I was up front, he was unconscious, and basically, he lost control of the bus, and we basically, me and another individual, stopped the bus. And I pulled the driver away and shook him so he hit the brake, and the other person tried to steer it out of the way.”
Guy Praisler was about five seats back and felt the impact.
“We start hitting cars on the side, and people start yelling, so I figure something happened to the driver,” he said.
Praisler told 1010 WINS’ Sonia Rincon he had no choice but to take action.
“I tried to hit the brake, but I couldn’t fit … my foot because he was sitting there,” Praisler said. “Then I figured that his leg is still on the gas, so as soon as I was able to move his leg, the bus stopped, slowing down.”
Fire crews eventually forced the doors open, allowing paramedics to treat injured passengers. The uninjured passengers were also permitted to exit, police said.
Five people were taken to Lenox Hill Hospital, including the drivers of the bus and the SUV that was hit, officials told 1010 WINS’ Rincon. Twenty more people were treated by paramedics at the scene.
None of the victims were seriously injured, fire officials told 1010 WINS. Their exact conditions were not immediately available.
The trail of damage was left up and down Madison Avenue, with smashed lights and street signs, debris in the road, and innocent drivers who said they never saw the bus coming.
Investigators were looking inside and outside the bus for clues Monday night.
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