WEST NEW YORK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Bystanders who called 911 after a commuter bus hit a pole that fell onto a stroller in West New York, killing an 8-month-old, wondered why the emergency response took so long.
Recordings of 911 calls revealed witnesses begging for an ambulance during the anguishing minutes after the bus hit the pole that fell on the stroller carrying Angelie Paredes.
“An ambulance, please, fast,” one caller said. “It’s a baby, it’s a baby!”
One man said at least five or six minutes elapsed and there was no doctor or ambulance. Another said about 10 minutes had elapsed.
“I don’t even know if the baby is even alive now,” a caller said.[cbs-audio url=”http://cbsnewyork.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/911.mp3″ size=”340″ download=”false” name=”Emergency Response Questioned In Fatal West New York Bus Crash” artist=”WCBS 880’s Sean Adams reports”]
One woman is heard saying: “The ambulance just got there. It took so long.”
Paredes was killed and seven others injured when the bus veered off the road, hit the pole that fell on the stroller then a tree, another pole and a parked car that then struck three other vehicles.
Police said the bus driver, 48-year-old Idowu Daramola, was using his cellphone at the time of the crash.
The Hudson County Sheriff’s Office said an ambulance responded within nine minutes, but Jersey City EMS said its paramedics were on the scene before that.
“The paramedics arrived within five minutes and 21 seconds from first receipt of the call when our dispatchers answered the telephone,” Jersey Center Medical Center EMS director Robert Luckritz told CBS 2’s Amy Dardashtian. “On their arrivals, the West New York EMS ambulance was already on scene.”
Luckritz told CBS 2 that by industry standards the response time to the accident was fast.
“When a tragedy occurs it is very different to witnesses, sense of time,” Luckritz explained.
CBS 2 has confirmed that the baby died during the ride to the hospital in a West New York ambulance, Dardashtian reported.
When CBS 2 called the sheriff’s office to ask why the two departments released different emergency response times, a spokesperson said a West New York police officer did arrive on scene and tried to perform CPR, adding the case is under investigation.
For the parents of Angelie the pain is unimaginable, on Friday neighbors joined the grieving family to watch iPhone video of the 8-month-old during happier moments.
“We have an angel now on Blvd East who is watching us all,” Jessica Soler told CBS 2’s Christine Sloan, “I definitely believe Angelie’s home is here and that the mayor should call this Angelie’s Corner.”
Witnesses said that the driver tried to cover his tracks in the aftermath of the accident.
“He went out of the bus to see what happened, went back in and pretended to have a heart attack,” a man named Juan said.
Daramola is charged with death by auto, reckless driving and using a cellphone while operating a vehicle and is being held on $250,000 bail.
He did not enter a plea during his court appearance Thursday. He said he has been unable to obtain a lawyer because the jail phone could not make outgoing calls.
The jitney bus he was driving is operated by Sphinx Transportation and provides shuttle service between New Jersey and New York City. Sphinx Transportation has not commented on the accident.
Daramola has also been working as a probationary bus operator for the MTA since February, the agency confirmed.
Spokesman Kevin Ortiz said the MTA has a policy that states workers are required to tell the MTA about duel employment and that Daramola did not. He said Daramola will be let go immediately.
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