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I-Team: Victim Responds To Amended 2011 MBTA Bus Accident Report

By WBZ-TV Chief Correspondent Joe Shortsleeve
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WBZ-TV's Joe Shortsleeve Joe Shortsleeve
Joe Shortsleeve is chief correspondent for WBZ-TV News weekdays a...
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CAMBRIDGE (CBS) – A WBZ-TV I-Team investigation is raising new questions about how MBTA Police handle incidents involving their MBTA drivers.

Isabel Preager, 68, of Cambridge, was hit by an MBTA bus in 2011 while walking in a crosswalk on Franklin Street in Cambridge.

“One second I didn’t see it and the next second there he was… and he hit me,” she said.

Video obtained by the I-Team from a camera mounted on the side of that MBTA bus shows the moment of impact, while she was pushing a carriage up onto the sidewalk.

The video shows Preager being clipped by the rear end of an MBTA bus and knocked to the sidewalk.

“I was injured. I was taken to the hospital,” she told the I-Team’s Joe Shortsleeve.

The video shows that the bus stopped seconds later and the MBTA driver returned to the corner.

Preager says an eyewitness was yelling at the driver.

“Screaming, you hit her. You… you hit her,” she said. “He knew he hit me.”

But the original MBTA police report obtained by the I-Team suggested that didn’t happen.

“…The injured party lost her foot(ing) and (s)he fell backward near the bus rear bumper, but at no time did she make actual contact with the bus…” the responding officer wrote, quoting the bus driver.

The MBTA driver was not issued a citation by MBTA police.

But how is that possible?

Unless someone dies, MBTA police exclusively investigate all MBTA bus crashes. And reliable MBTA sources have told the I-Team that MBTA police officers are instructed very early in their career not to write tickets or citations to MBTA drivers.

A veteran MBTA police officer who did not want to be identified recently talked to the I-Team.

“What is it that MBTA police supervisors say to officers?” I asked him.

“You don’t write bus drivers. And if you do, the ticket will be taken care of later,” he said.

The I-Team also recently told you about two other cases where MBTA drivers escaped responsibility: in Burlington, where a woman’s car was nearly crushed by an MBTA bus, and outside Mount Auburn Hospital, where a pedestrian was dragged 20 feet by a bus.

Preager, who is speaking out for the first time, says the MBTA has taken no responsibility for hitting her.
She says she told the responding MBTA police officer that the bus hit her, and was disappointed to learn nothing was done.

“I think the MBTA should have done something. They did nothing,” she said when asked whether the driver should have been issued a citation.

In Preager’s case, sources tell the I-Team that MBTA officials later realized the bus was equipped with video, and the accident report was amended, confirming the bus did hit her.

The I-Team called the MBTA on Thursday, but they would only say what they said in May.

“Transit Police officers use their discretion in deciding whether a citation is warranted,” they said.

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