By Courtney Dentch
A Green Bus driver who lost control of his vehicle last Thursday, leaving a path of destruction along 150th Street in South Jamaica, has been suspended without pay but was not expected to face criminal charges, officials said.
Eight pedestrians, 15 cars and two utility poles were struck by the runaway bus after driver Kenneth Criss, 42, of Rochdale Village, suffered what was believed to be a diabetic seizure at 4:15 p.m., police said.
The pedestrians were treated for minor injuries, and the lone bus passenger was unharmed, said Officer Louis Camacho, spokesman for the Police Department.
Criss was taken into custody after the accident and passed a Breathalyzer test, police said. He was not expected to be charged in the incident, police said.
The Q7 Green Bus was turning onto 150th Street from North Conduit Avenue when Criss lost control and began zigzagging across the street, pushing cars hundreds of feet from where they were parked, uprooting utility poles and covering the roadway with debris.
Andrea Rogers, 40, opened her door to check on her Volkswagen Jetta, only to find the bus had pushed it through the chain-link fence marking the edge of Baisley Pond Park, about 150 feet away from her home at 128-20 150th St.
“I was sleeping and I heard all the noise,” Rogers said. “I was looking for my car and I didn't see it at first, then I saw it all the way over there.”
The driver regained control of the bus a few feet into Baisley Pond Park.
“He got down there and went into the park,” said William Davis, who watched the scene from outside his house at 130-06 150th St. “He sat there for a second, backed the bus up and tried to go again.”
The bus, with a crushed front end and broken windows, came to a stop at 150th Street and Sutter Avenue.
Criss, of 130th Avenue in Rochdale Village, seemed as surprised by the chain of events as anyone else, said Sylvia Meade, 29, who ran from her home at 128-16 150th St. because she thought the bus was dragging her brother's car with him inside.
“He parked the bus on the side and dropped his hands like he was in shock,” Meade said. “He could not believe it himself.”
As emergency personnel surveyed the scene, Rosedale resident Wilfredo Rodriguez checked the heavy damage to his GMC Yukon truck parked outside his mother's house. The driver's side had been crushed by the bus.
“I looked at the truck and thought this cannot be happening. I rely on my truck. I have no transportation to get to work,” said Rodriguez, a maintenance engineer at the Queens Botanical Garden.
Others, such as resident Eva Murphy, said the damage and injuries could have been a lot worse had the weather been warmer and had more people been using the park. Murphy, who lives at 130-04 150th St., often takes her sons, 2 and 7, to the park, she said.
“It's a good thing it's a cold day, or we would have been in the park,” Murphy said. “We were there this time yesterday.”
Four victims of the bus accident were treated at Jamaica Hospital, another two at Mary Immaculate Hospital and two more at Long Island Jewish Hospital. One woman was kept for overnight observation, but all were released by Monday, police said.
Criss, who was released from police custody last Thursday, has been suspended from work pending the outcome of an investigation and hearing by the Green Bus company, said company spokesman Jamie Van Bramer. Criss has been an employee of the company since August 1997.
The company was unaware of any medical condition Criss may have, but the driver did pass the medical checkups required by state law every two years, Van Bramer said.
The Q7 line runs from Kennedy Airport, up 150th Street to Rockaway Boulevard, through Ozone Park and into Brooklyn.
Reach reporter Courtney Dentch by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com, or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.