Police: Driver not at fault in deadly RIPTA accident

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Providence Police have concluded that the driver of a RIPTA bus that struck and killed a nine-year-old girl last week was not at fault for the tragedy.

The accident happened on the morning of March 26, when nine-year-old Ani Emdjian was walking to school with her father.

Police reconstructed the accident scene and reviewed video from the bus dashboard camera and the surveillance systems of two nearby businesses.  The investigation revealed that the RIPTA bus was traveling below the posted 25 mile per hour speed limit when it hit the child, who police said was running across Smith Street at the time.

Emdjian was rushed to Hasbro Children’s Hospital where she was pronounced dead a short time later.

ani go fundme
Family and friends have been raising money for Ani’s parents, to help cover bills as they grieve. »

The bus driver, 42-year-old Eric Seaberg, was drug-tested following the collision, in accordance with RIPTA policy. Police say preliminary toxicology results came back clear.

“This has definitely been felt all through RIPTA,” Barbara Polichetti of RIPTA said.

The Rhode Island State Police Motor Carrier Unit inspected the bus and found no mechanical defects.  Providence Police found no evidence of operator error.

The Providence Police Department has concluded its investigation, and handed the case over to the Rhode Island Attorney General’s Office.

While the driver has been cleared, RIPTA’s CEO said the accident serves as a sad reminder.

“Nothing changes the fact that this was a heartbreaking accident that has forever changed the lives of all involved,” said  Ray Studley.  “The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority was notified by Providence Police that their investigation has found that this tragedy occurred through no fault of one of our  operators. Still, it is a sad reminder that everyone needs to always be thinking ‘safety first’ when on the road – whether it is motor vehicle operators, bicyclists or pedestrians.”

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