School Bus Driver in Fatal Frederick Avenue Crash Had Invalid License

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Courtesy WBAL-TV
Courtesy WBAL-TV

While authorities investigate what caused a school bus to crash into an MTA bus and a Ford Mustang in Baltimore on Tuesday, an unfortunate detail emerged today about the driver of the school bus: his commercial driver’s license was invalid.

According to a documents provided by Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration spokesman Chuck Brown, Chappell, who was 67, received a letter in mid-July notifying him that he needed to get a new medical examiner’s certificate by Aug. 31 to renew his license for the year. That date came and went, and the MVA sent him another letter dated Sept. 8 to tell him he had been unauthorized to drive a commercial vehicle for a week. However, he could still have sent the certificate by Oct. 10 to retain his license, according to the letter.

He didn’t follow up on the MVA’s request. That means, as of three weeks ago, Chappell was driving the school bus for his employer without a valid license, AAAffordable Transportation. Federal regulations require companies to have medical examiner’s certificates for all of their commercial drivers, Brown said.

Licensure wasn’t what caused Chappell to crash into a Ford Mustang and an oncoming MTA bus on Tuesday morning, but it is troubling. Other details from Maryland court records show Chappell had a checkered legal history in recent years, including being found guilty of violating domestic violence-related protective orders in 2012 and 2013 and driving on a suspended registration as recently as last year.

Chappell and the driver of the other bus, 33-year-old Ebony Baker, both died in the crash, along with four passengers in her vehicle. Police released their names in an update about their investigation yesterday.

People in the Baltimore area and around the country are mourning the tragic accident, which drew a spotlight to the city for a sad reason. Area residents have been holding vigils to commemorate the lives lost in the Frederick Avenue accident this week.

During this period of grieving, authorities are still searching for answers to give to families of the victims of the six who were killed and the 10 who were injured. Chappell’s expired license doesn’t paint a full picture at all, but it does tell us that he probably shouldn’t been driving the bus at the time.

A previous headline said Chappell’s license was expired, when in fact it was invalid.

Ethan McLeod
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Ethan McLeod

Senior Editor at Baltimore Fishbowl
Ethan has been editing and reporting for Baltimore Fishbowl since fall of 2016. His previous stops include Fox 45, CQ Researcher and Connection Newspapers in Northern Virginia. His freelance writing has been featured in Baltimore City Paper, Leafly, DCist and BmoreArt, among other outlets. He enjoys basketball, humid Mid-Atlantic summers and story tips.
Ethan McLeod
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