Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Deadly Newark Bus Collision Probed

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Deadly Newark Bus Collision Probed

Article excerpt

Two people -- a driver and a passenger -- died after a violent crash involving a pair of NJ Transit buses in downtown Newark as the morning rush hour was getting under way Friday, authorities said.

One bus was traveling north on Broad Street when it was struck by another that was headed west on Raymond Boulevard at 6:05 a.m. The impact at the busy intersection split the northbound bus nearly in half.

The first victim was identified as Joseph Barthelus, the driver of the westbound bus. Barthelus, 70, had been a driver for NJ Transit for 27 years and lived in Union, according to the Essex County Prosecutor's Office.

Investigators were trying to determine the cause of the accident, including whether one of the drivers ran a red light or suffered a medical emergency, said Mayor Ras Baraka.

The second victim was identified only as a female passenger on the northbound bus. Authorities still had yet to determine the woman's identity as of Friday evening, said Katherine Carter, a spokeswoman for the Prosecutor's Office.

"This is a tragic day for New Jersey Transit, for our employees and for our customers," said NJ Transit's interim executive director, Dennis Martin. "First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Joseph Barthelus, our driver who passed away, and all those injured or affected by this tragedy."

The driver of the other bus was identified as James Roberts, who has 35 years of experience with NJ Transit, Martin said. Roberts was treated at a nearby hospital for minor injuries and then released. Both drivers had passed their most recent physical exams and were "in good standing" with the agency, Martin said.

Barthelus was driving an empty bus from the Ironbound garage to start his route at Lincoln Park in Newark. He was scheduled to drive the No. 59 route from Newark to Westfield, officials said. The other bus had left Irvington at 5:39 a.m., passed through Newark Penn Station and was on its way to Belleville on the No. 13 route when it was struck, said Nancy Snyder, a spokeswoman for NJ Transit.

'Like an explosion'

The force of Friday's crash left the westbound bus embedded in the side of the northbound bus, which came to rest nearly on its side, leaning at a 30-degree angle on a traffic median. …

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