Bus Driver Who Veered Off Bridge Disputes MTA's Claims He Refused Drug Test
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The driver of an MTA bus that veered off a bridge late Thursday night is speaking out for the first time since the crash and disputing the transit agency's claims he refused a drug test.
With his mouth nearly wired shut due to a broken jaw and daughter by his side, 55-year-old Everton Beccan described the moments leading up to that terrifying crash along University Avenue.
"I was leaving the bus stop. I'm coming down the hill to make the turn. I ease off the gas pedal, and the bus just took off. And then the turn, I lost it," he said Saturday.
Beccan says he's a certified mechanic and believes something was wrong with the bus.
Seven passengers suffered minor injuries after one part of the articulated bus fell 50 feet onto a highway ramp. The other half remained on the bridge. No other vehicles were involved.
CBS2 interviewed three of those passengers, who say they thought they were going to die.
MORE: Exclusive: Bronx Bus Passengers Describe Frightening Experience In Crash That Sent Bus Dangling Over Cross Bronx Expressway
Santiago Pascual was brought to tears, saying he briefly loss consciousness and feared for his girlfriend, who was being crushed by other passengers.
Beccan says he did what he could to help.
"My main concern was for them, on my life," he said.
Beccan says when police arrived, he took a breathalyzer test, which he passed.
However, he says the statement from MTA officials saying he refused a mandatory drug and alcohol test at the hospital is not true.
"I want to set the record straight. I did not refuse a drug test. I did the drug test, and I have the paper here to prove. I did not get the result yet," Beccan said.
His union's vice president backed him up.
"We have documents that show he took the screening test inside the hospital," TWU Vice President Richard David said.
CBS2's Cory James reports the document claims Beccan took a urine drug test around 10:30 a.m. Friday at St. Barnabas Hospital.
That is more than seven hours after MTA officials say they sent a technician to the hospital to get Beccan to take their required Federal Transit Administration post-incident drug test, adding Beccan declined three times within 41 minutes.
But Beccan says that did not happen.
"Only three persons came in there to me -- the police officer, a dispatcher and my union rep. No one else came in," he said.
The union says Beccan's results from the urine test that he allegedly took are still pending, but the MTA says that is not in compliance with its protocol following serious incidents.
The agency released the following statement:
"The FTA requires bus operators to comply with federally-regulated testing administered by the MTA under strict chain of custody protocols following serious incidents. This operator refused to be tested three times. Whatever else may have occurred seven hours after those refusals, if was not what is required by the Federal Transit Administration or the MTA in this situation."
Beccan has been "withheld from service without pay" following the crash, the MTA said Saturday.
MORE: Shocking Scene: MTA Bus Crashes Through Barrier And Dangles Over Cross Bronx Expressway
The driver, who was driving his regular route, has more than 11 years of service and a good safety record, the MTA said.
The MTA also said at the time of the incident, the bus was traveling almost five times the allowable speed for a bus making the turn being attempted.
MORE FROM CBS NEW YORK:
- Jets' Robert Saleh Makes History As NFL's First Muslim Head Coach
- Staten Island Couple Says Tenants Who Haven't Paid Rent Since May 2019 Can't Be Kicked Out Due To Eviction Moratorium
- COVID Vaccine: CBS2 Finds Nearly Empty Vaccination Centers Turning Eligible New Yorkers Away
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
for more features.