MTA driver suspended after runaway bus accident

A city bus driver’s first week on the job was a total wreck.

An empty MTA bus careened down a hilly Brooklyn street early Wednesday, plowing into a bystander, several cars and a local church after the rookie driver left her ride in neutral, cops said.

“I can’t believe this,” a witness heard the driver announce after the bizarre 12:30 a.m. crash. “It’s my third day on the job.”

Driver Shatima Simmons, after stepping off the parked bus, desperately chased the runaway vehicle as it rolled backward down Palmetto Ave. in Bushwick — a wild ride captured by witnesses on their cell phones.

“I saw the bus driver yelling ‘Help! Help! Please stop the bus!’” said witness Bennie Garcia, 45, who lives on the block.

“I couldn’t believe what was happening. I asked ‘Who’s driving?’ But there wasn’t anyone in there.”

Before making its last stop at St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, the bus slammed into a parked BMW as Nicholas Rivera was putting a new headlight into the luxury car, according to witnesses.

Rivera was sent flying about 10 feet on impact, with blood pouring from his nose and mouth.

“He was lying like he was dead on his back,” said Garcia. “I looked up and saw the bus was still going down the block.”

Rivera’s friend Gerardo Ortega, 23, said they heard the bus driver screaming “Stop it! Stop it!” — but they assumed the yelling was just a street fight.

Seconds later, the bus slammed into the BMW as Ortega watched in disbelief. The injured man was transported to Wyckoff Heights Medical Center, where he was treated and released, officials said.

Simmons, 30, was also taken to an area hospital for observation, witnesses said.

“We are grateful no one was seriously hurt,” said JP Patafio, a vice president with Transport Workers Union Local 100.

“This is a very young bus operator in her early 20s who was on the job only three days. She is obviously very, very upset and we’re going to assist her.”

The bus finally came to a halt after slamming into St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church on Knickerbocker Ave., mangling its metal fence and a brick column.

A maroon van from a neighboring house of worship was also busted in the wreck.

“My van is damaged completely,” said the Rev. Jose Quintana, pastor of Iglesia Pentecostal Church across the street from St. Paul’s.

The Q58 bus, which takes passengers from Ridgewood to Flushing, was out of service at the time of the accident, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.


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