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Families Blame MBTA Bus Driver For Fight, Crash

ROXBURY (CBS/AP) – The relatives of two young men charged with attacking an MBTA bus driver say the driver is to blame for the resulting crash.

19-year-old Michael Baptista and 18-year-old Felix Garcia of Roxbury were arrested Wednesday and charged with interfering with a bus driver and assault and battery on a public employee.

WBZ-TV's Peg Rusconi reports.

They were arraigned in Roxbury District Court Thursday morning. Baptista was released on a promise to return to court. Garcia, who hid behind a door during the hearing, was ordered held on $10,000 bail for violating his probation.

MBTA Bus Crash
(credit: Boston Fire Department)

Assistant District Attorney Andrius Knasas said Garcia and Baptista assaulted the 39-year-old bus driver and knocked him unconscious, causing the bus to crash against a building on Dudley Street Monday afternoon.

Police say the incident was sparked when the driver asked someone to put out a cigarette. Smoking is prohibited on Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority buses.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Carl Stevens reports


A fight broke out and somehow, for reasons that are still not clear, both young men ended up hit by the bus. The prosecutor said Garcia wanted to sue the MBTA moments after the crash.

"At that point he was smoking a cigarette and high-fiving other individuals saying that he was going to sue the MBTA and that he was going to get a free MBTA pass for life," Knasas said.

Outside court, relatives of both Garcia and Baptista said the driver started everything and should be facing charges.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Lana Jones reports


"Felix Garcia is innocent. He did not hit the bus driver, from what I know," said Garcia's sister-in-law, Chrsitine Gonzalez.

"The bus driver punched him first. After the bus driver punched him, you know, they got into a scuffle," Baptista's sister, Priscilla Malave, told reporters.

Prosecutors say the driver lost conscious during the fight, that's when the bus veered off the road and crashed into a building.

Relatives claim the driver tried to run over the young men on purpose.

"Then he purposely moved the bus towards Michael and Felix – supposedly the two alleged victims," Malave told reporters "and said 'I got you, I got you.'"

The driver ended up in the hospital and is now on paid leave.  His name has not been released.

If they're found guilty, Baptista and Garcia could face up to twenty years in state prison and a $10,000 fine.

Baptista had little to say to reporters after he was released from court.

"How are you gonna jump a kid and then end up under a bus? Think about that for a second."

(TM and © Copyright 2010 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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