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Icy car collision causes serious damage to transit bus

By Chris Curme
On March 4, 2014

A Butler County Regional Transit Authority (BCRTA) bus heading to Oxford from Miami University's Hamilton campus got in a serious accident when it was hit by an oncoming vehicle at high speed on State Route 177 late morning, Wednesday. To authorities' surprise, there were no injuries, and BCRTA officials helped bus passengers arrive at their destinations despite the collision.

Miami University Police Department (MUPD) Lieutenant Ben Spilman received a call that morning informing him of the crash.

"A southbound bus on 177 was stuck by a northbound vehicle that appears to have crossed the center line," Spilman said. "Neither the driver nor the passenger in the striking vehicle were injured, nor the driver or four passengers in the bus."

The scene was dramatic, and Spilman said he was surprised there were no injuries. The posted speed limit on that stretch of 177 is 55 mph.

"The bus left the roadway to the right, missed a telephone pole, and came to a stop in a field," Spilman said. "There was serious damage to the bus, and equally serious damage to the striking vehicle."

BCRTA operations manager Connor Briggs said the bus operator did all she could to keep everyone safe.

"Our driver cranked the wheel all the way to the right has hard as she could, and ended up narrowly missing a utility pole," Briggs said. "It was a fairly high speed collision: our bus was completely totaled. That was the best outcome we could have had in a situation like that."

According to Briggs, the road was a slightly icy, but had been salted and was much better than it had been earlier that morning.

Spilman headed down to the scene to see if there was any way he could assist.

"I brought back a couple of students and a faculty member," Spilman said.

Briggs had quickly arrived from Hamilton with another BCRTA administrator, each driving a Ford escape.

"Once we made sure everyone was OK and on the same page, we loaded all the students we could in our Ford escapes and got them to their destinations [in Hamilton] as soon as possible," Briggs said.

Matt Dutkevicz, BCRTA assistant general manager, said their operators are trained for such situations.

"That's part of a training process we go through, with all the operators," Dutkevicz said. "We're on a radio system directly with the sheriff and the Miami police, so we can relay emergencies very quickly. This helps facilitate the fast response. We set up a response team to take care of restoring service and checking out the accident scene."

Dutkevicz said it was the first time in his four or five years with BCRTA that he had seen an incident of this caliber.

"This is a relatively rare occurrence, [surprisingly], given our bitter winter," Briggs said. "And our operators have done a great job stressing safety over timeliness in these situations."

Spilman commended BCRTA.

"Management responded immediately to the scene, transported people who would have been tied up the entire time to one of the two campuses," Spilman said. "The communication with them was just excellent."


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