By Joe Anuta
The bus driver who fatally struck a Queens woman Saturday night in Jamaica has a clean record, according to the Nassau County bus company that operates the route.
At about 7 p.m., the 52-year-old driver was behind the wheel of a Nassau Inter-County Express bus traveling westbound on Hillside Avenue. When he made a left turn to head south along the N6 route, he struck Maleka Begum, 54, as the Bangladesh native was crossing Merrick Boulevard, according to police and CBS News.
The driver was not charged, and Begum was pronounced dead at the scene after the arrival of police and EMS, according to the NYPD and eyewitnesses.
“It’s tragic,” said Ramone Pantoja, who was at the Barnard F. Dowd Funeral Home on the corner at the time of the accident. “This intersection is notorious.”
Pantoja saw police and crowds of people gather at the scene, and wondered why the bus driver did not slow down since he contended people often get hit trying to cross the thoroughfare.
“You think the buses would pay more attention,” he said.
But according to the bus company, the driver has an unblemished driving record and Begum was not hit by the front of the bus.
Preliminary findings show the woman was injured when she came in contact with the side of the bus near the rear, according to a spokesman for the company, although the investigation was ongoing. The bus has been pulled from rotation and the driver has been suspended until a final determination can be made, he said.
The driver, who was not identified, operated a bus for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority from 2002 to January 2012 before joining the public-private bus company and has no reported incidents related to his tenure behind the wheel, the spokesman said.
As per protocol, the driver was given an alcohol and drug test, the results of which are pending, according to the spokesman.
In addition, the Public Transportation Safety Board will inspect the bus.
After the MTA cut bus service to Nassau County, the municipality decided to take matters into its own hands and start a public-private partnership with a company called Veolia Transportation, which took over the old MTA routes under the name Nassau Inter-County Express in June last year.
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.