Broome County Investigates Pedestrian Death by Bus Driver

By Mike Trim

July 22, 2010 Updated Apr 5, 2006 at 12:07 AM EDT

Broome County Public Transportation placed bus driver Harley Bennett on paid leave after an accident at Mill Street and Vestal Avenue in Binghamton. He drove the bus that hit and killed 76-year-old Lois Stracuzzi.

"Harley Bennett was a good person and a good driver. This driver is clearly upset. He is shaken by what has happened," says BC Public Transportation Commissioner, John Kowalchyk.

According to the transportation commissioner, this is the first time someone has died after being hit by a BC Transit bus.

Following any accident, Broome County requires the drivers to take a drug and alcohol test. Once the results are back on Bennett, the public transportation safety board will meet to decide if he will keep his job.

This isn't Bennett's first accident here at the intersection of Mill Street and Vestal Avenue. Back in June of 2003, he was driving a BC transit bus that hit a person crossing this same street. And that's causing some concern in this Southside neighborhood.

"I was scared because it keeps happening you know?" says Maria Tomassetti of Binghamton.

Neighbors say the intersection is very busy. They believe two bus accidents in three years is reason to step up safety.

This latest accident happened in front of Khianti Carpenter's house. She's relieved that her son wasn't outside. "You know the bus could have hit him. Now they need to make some type of procedures to make this block better," says Carpenter.

And that's something Kowalchyk says the county transportation board will discuss. For now, BC Transit will run the bus route as is, through the neighborhood.

Broome County Transportation Commissioner John Kowalchyk says Bennett's test results could come back in two to three days. Then the safety board will hold a special meeting to discuss the accident and the future of his job.

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