RIPTA driver on leave after accident injures officer

Frank McKnight was critically injured after being hit by a RIPTA bus in Kennedy Plaza on Wednesday, May 28, 2014.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The RIPTA driver behind the wheel of a bus that struck and critically injured a federal court security officer is on paid administrative leave while an investigation into the accident plays out.

RIPTA CEO Raymond Studley and the agency’s board chairman, Mayor Scott Avedisian, answered questions about Wednesday’s accident during a news conference at RIPTA headquarters Thursday afternoon.

“This is a tragedy for everyone involved,” Avedisian said. “The mood here at our headquarters is rather somber.”

Frank McKnight (Photo: North Kingstown P.D.)
Frank McKnight (Photo: North Kingstown P.D.)

According to U.S. Marshal Jamie Hainsworth, Frank McKnight, 69, was crossing Washington Street Wednesday afternoon when he was hit. Officials said McKnight, a 13-year veteran, was on duty prior to being struck. As of Thursday morning, he was listed in critical condition at Rhode Island Hospital.

Studley said Katherine Gormley, who was just finishing up her shift driving the Newport to Providence route, was turning left from Washington Street onto Exchange Street when the accident happened.

While he referred all questions about the ongoing accident investigation to Providence police, Studley did say there was no indication drugs or alcohol were involved. The preliminary test results confirmed this, according to Providence Police Deputy Chief Thomas Oates.

Studley noted that anytime a driver is involved in an accident, there is a drug and alcohol screen.

Oates said the RIPTA bus was evaluated by state police and no mechanical defects were found.

Gormley’s been with RIPTA for 27 years, 15 of those as a driver, according to Studley. Per standard procedure, she’s been placed on paid administrative leave.

Avedisian said the driver was extremely distraught about the accident.

Studley would not comment on Gormley’s safety record specifically, but said all RIPTA drivers undergo the same five-week training, which includes a defensive driving training system.

Studley said once police conclude their investigation, RIPTA will conduct an administrative review of the crash as well.

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