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A dropped thermos may be the culprit in fatal NYC bus accident

location of deadly NYC bus accidentFederal Investigators announced yesterday that the bus accident that killed 3 people in NYC in 2017  might have been caused by a thermos that was dropped between the brake and the gas pedals.  On September 18th 2017 a charter bus operated by Dahlia group sped through a red light and crashed into a MTA bus at the intersection of Main Street and Northern Boulevard in Flushing. The bus speed was 60 mph which was twice the speed limit. The accident caused the death of the charter bus driver, a passenger on the MTA bus and a pedestrian (see previous blog) .

Metallic sound heard on audio tape moments before the accident

The National Transportation Safety Board just released a report stating that the cause of the fatal bus accident was uncertain but a dropped thermos bottle might be a possible explanation. According to the investigation, moments before the accident, the bus was travelling at the authorized speed of 30 mph when a metal rattling noise is heard on the audio recording. Then the driver is heard swearing while at the same time the bus accelerates. Then the bus driver swerved to avoid vehicles and entered the intersection at 60 mph. The investigators believe the driver did not deliberately accelerate to crash his vehicle.

Thermos bottle found near control pedals

At the scene of the accident investigators found a metallic thermos bottle near the the control pedals. Therefore investigators believe that the most probable explanation of the accident was that the thermos bottle became stuck beneath or between the accelerator and the brake pedals making the driver unable to control the speed of his vehicle. When questioned his wife confined that her husband had indeed taken the thermos with him. However investigators were unable to fully confirm that a dropped thermos was the cause of the accident for two reasons:

  1. they were never able to reproduce the metallic noise heard on the audio tape  while trying to drop a similar thermos on the pedals
  2. while examining the marks on the thermos there was no physical evidence that they were caused by contact with the pedals

However investigators found that it was possible to position the thermos in way it could block both the gas and the brake pedals

Read the press release from the NTSB 

Picture: Location of the deadly bus accident courtesy of Google Map