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Bus Driver Accused Of Fatally Striking Man In Center City Claims He Didn't Know He Hit Anyone

By Steve Tawa

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- The driver of the tour bus that struck and killed a pedestrian Tuesday morning, near Philadelphia police headquarters, is remorseful and cooperating.

Accident Investigation District Captain John Wilczynski says 66-year old Walter Jefferson has an up to date commercial driver's license from his home base here in Philadelphia, and was just getting underway to Washington.

"He goes that route everyday, and he didn't realize that anything happened. He didn't indicate to us that he saw anybody."

The victim was three quarters of the way across the intersection at Franklin and Race and Streets, when he was knocked to the ground, run over, and dragged about 50-feet.

Investigators say 46-year-old Joseph Heard was on his way for kidney dialysis when he was struck and killed.

Wilczynski says apparently, neither Jefferson nor the 19 passengers on board heard or felt anything. There were no on board cameras, but there is graphic street video that police are not releasing.

"After impact, a few feet up, it does show a little lurching up on the right hand side."

Jefferson told authorities he was not distracted, nor using his cellphone.

"We're getting a search warrant for his phone records. That will reveal if there was any texting or calling."

Tawa: 'Did he verbally respond to that issue?'

"He denied it."

As CBS 3 Eyewitness News reporter Syma Chowdhry reports, Joseph Heard was an Internet radio show host.

"You could meet Joe for the briefest of moments and walk away thinking, 'that is a really nice guy,'" said Jim Bear, station manager of G-Town Internet Radio.

Bear speaks very highly of Heard, one of his favorite hosts.

He listened to Heard's previous shows knowing he will never hear that voice on the radio again.

"Losing someone, especially tragically like this and unexpectedly it kind of takes the wind out of you for a moment," said Bear.

Officials say Heard was on the way to his kidney dialysis appointment when he was struck.

Bear says Heard never talked about his health issues.

He instead focused on getting people excited about science.

"Very good at explaining technical scientific ideas and concepts to people that they could easily grasp," said Bear.

Heard had a degree in mathematics and used hosted his weekly show to inspire others.

"The world will be missing out on someone who cared," said Bear.

G-Town Radio plans to host a tribute show for Heard at the end of the month.

It could take weeks or months to forward a report to the District Attorney's office, which will ultimately determine whether charges should be brought, or whether the victim was in an unfortunate blind spot, and it will be recorded as an accident.

CBS 3 Eyewitness News Reporter Syma Chowdhry contributed to this report. 






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