Phone in Hand of Massachusetts Bus Driver at Time of Crash

May 23, 2014

The veteran driver whose bus crashed through a guardrail, leaving the front end hanging over the Massachusetts Turnpike, appeared to have a cellphone in her hand at the time of the crash, according to an investigative report.

The driver, Shanna Shaw, 42, told investigators after the crash at about 7:30 a.m. Sunday that she was being bothered by allergies and a sneezing fit caused her to close her eyes, fall to the floor and lose control of the bus, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority report said.

But investigators who reviewed video surveillance from the bus said Shaw “had an item in her left hand, consistent in size and shape, with a cellular telephone.”

One wheel of the bus was hanging over the highway in Newton, outside Boston, but police said it was never in danger of falling. Shaw and seven of the nine passengers on board received medical treatment.

Shaw at first said she did not have a phone, but an investigator heard a phone ring in her purse at the hospital, and she later admitted that she did, the report said. MBTA bus drivers as well as trolley and train operators are barred from carrying cellphones on the job.

She allowed police to check the phone’s history, which showed no text messages or phone calls sent or received since 5:30 a.m. that day, police said.

Shaw is charged with obstruction of justice, operating to endanger, speeding and impeded operation. She has been removed from service.

The investigation is ongoing.

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