MA: T Bus Crash a Mystery

May 19--Investigators are hoping cameras onboard a 42,760-pound MBTA bus will help establish what happened as it careened off the roadway, smashed through a guardrail and nearly plunged off the Newton Corner overpass onto the Massachusetts Turnpike below early yesterday morning.

"They're reviewing it," T spokeswoman Kelly Smith said last night.

Authorities offered no immediate explanation for what made the Route 57 bus veer off the road, cross a sidewalk and through the metal guardrail and into a wire fence, which caught it like a catcher's mitt with its driver's side wheel hanging over the Pike. Smith said the Route 57 bus was driven by a 55-year-old woman who has been with the T for 18 years. No other information about her history with the MBTA was released and a spokesman for Boston Carmen's Union Local 589 could not be reached for comment.

Eight people of the 11 people onboard were injured, including the driver. Smith said police believe "no other vehicles were involved."

Transit police Lt. Detective Mark Gillespie said the bus originated at the Watertown MBTA yard at 7:20 a.m. Fifteen minutes later, Gillespie said, "We received a call of the bus coming toward this overpass, preparing to take a left-hand turn.

"As the bus came onto the overpass -- we're unclear on the circumstances -- it left the roadway, went up onto the sidewalk and hit a guardrail. The circumstances of the bus' route are unclear at this time. It's under investigation," Gillespie said.

The bus, he said, was coming off Washington Street and was bound for Kenmore Station, where it was due to arrive at 7:41 a.m.

"There's a guardrail, as you can see, a pretty strong guardrail, and then there's a fence that prevented the bus from moving any further. Not to say that it would have gone onto the Mass Pike, but it is stopped in place where it hit those two items," Gillespie said.

Of the 10 passengers onboard, seven were taken to area hospitals, as well as the driver, for treatment of minor injuries.

"It's very dramatic," Newton police Lt. Bruce Apotheker said of the wreck, which looked like a scene straight out of an action film. "Thank God there were no injuries that were life-threatening."

Gillespie said the bus will be impounded and undergo a thorough mechanical inspection.

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