Federal investigators have released some troubling new findings about the school bus driver killed in the bus collision that killed six people and injured 10 in Southwest Baltimore early last month.
Veteran bus driver Glenn Chappell was operating a school bus on Frederick Avenue when he struck a Ford Mustang and then an MTA commuter bus on Nov. 1. Chappell and the other bus driver, Ebony Baker, died in the crash, along with four passengers on the MTA bus. The news garnered national attention and condolences for the families and friends of the people killed and wounded in the accident.
According to a preliminary report released today by the National Transportation Safety Board, Chappell had been involved in at least 12 “crashes or incidents” while operating school buses since 2011. He also had a history of seizures, as well as hypertension and diabetes, according to the report.
The NTSB says some of those crashes involved “seizure-like episodes.” As recently as a week before the fatal accident, paramedics had responded to AAAffordable Transportation, the Baltimore-based bus company that had employed Chappell, for what witnesses described as Chappell having a seizure.
We reached out to AAAffordable Transportation for comment. An employee said they had “no comment” to make about the new report.
The NTSB’s investigation also found another startling detail: The school bus was moving at nearly double the 30-mph speed limit of that section of Frederick Road when it hit a Ford Mustang before traveling over the center lines. It was moving at about 45 mph when it hit the oncoming MTA bus, which was moving at 39 mph, the report says.
Investigators spoke with a teacher’s aide who was riding with Chappell that day, and learned that she asked Chappell what happened after he initially hit the Ford Mustang. She said he didn’t respond before he then ran into the MTA bus.
The Maryland MVA previously shared the unfortunate detail that Chappell was driving the school bus for AAAffordable Transportation with an invalid commercial license, since he hadn’t filed a renewed medical certificate with the agency. The NTSB says Chappell had actually obtained a current medical certificate, but had never filed it with the MVA.
While the report includes the above troubling findings, it does rule out some other factors in the tragic accident. Investigators say neither Chappell or Brown, the MTA bus driver, had been using their cell phones when the crash happened and hadn’t been driving for longer than three hours. They also said they found no mechanical issues with either bus during inspections.
The agency says it’s still working with Baltimore police to determine a probable cause for the crash so it can recommend ways to prevent other such accidents in the future.