WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — A Rhode Island Public Transit Authority bus crashed into a building in Warwick on Monday, sending three people to the hospital.
The crash happened around 7 p.m. at 1209 Post Road.
Police have identified the driver of the bus as 51-year-old Richard Avedisian of North Kingstown. According to RIPTA, Avedisian has been with the company for about 30 years.
Witnesses said the bus hit a utility pole and cut across traffic, before jumping a curb and plowing through a snowbank. The bus hit the building, which houses The Driver’s Seat automotive store and a paintball shop.
Warwick police said the scene was about a half-mile long and all injuries appeared to be non-life-threatening.
Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian spoke to Eyewitness News crews at the scene. Avedisian is also the chair of the RIPTA board.
Mayor Avedisian confirmed there is no relation between him and the identified driver, Richard Avedisian.
“Three people were taken to the hospital. They were all alive when they left here and we’re hopeful their condition will continue to improve throughout the evening,” he said.
Joe French said the bus nearly hit his truck as it switched lanes.
“It was easily going, I would estimate, 40 to 50 miles an hour. It was definitely moving,” he said.
Melissa Dixon and her daughter were in their car when they saw the crash happen. Dixon said she ran onto the bus after it came to a stop to try and help.
“One passenger [was] laying on his stomach on the floor and I thought there was just the driver,” she said. “You could hear him moaning so I knew they were both alive.”
Eyewitness News spoke with the owner of The Driver’s Seat, Manuel Rosario, who said he was inside the building when the crash happened. The roof collapsed after the crash, but Rosario said he is just glad no one inside the store was injured.
Mayor Avedisian said he spoke with the driver briefly after the crash.
“He wasn’t saying much. He was just saying where he hurt and where the blood was coming from and I think we’ll know more tomorrow about that,” he said.
Officials said video and data from the bus will be analyzed to try to determine what exactly happened.
Coincidentally, RIPTA posted a video about safety on their Twitter account right around the time the crash happened.
Anyone who witnessed the crash is asked to contact Warwick police at (401) 468-4200.