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Driver in Evans City Bus-Train Crash Charged with Vehicular Homicide

Passengers tried to warn Frank Schaffner the train was approaching, according to the criminal complaint.

The driver of a Butler Area Rural Transit bus that was struck by a train last month in Evans City, leaving two people dead, is facing vehicular homicide charges.

According to the criminal complaint filed by Evans City Police, Frank B. Schaffner, 59, of Butler Township, did not stop at the Maple Avenue crossing the morning of April 26, despite being alerted to the oncoming train by passengers.

Video from the bus camera shows Schaffner, who was wearing dark sunglasses on the foggy morning, did not look left or right before driving over the tracks, which are not protected by crossing gates.

“On the video, you can hear the horns from the train rapidly approaching,” Evans City police Chief Joseph McCombs wrote in the complaint. “Some passengers visibly start to prepare for impact. Schaffner begins to look to his left as the train begins side impact to all passengers seated behind him. The horns on the train are sounding as the train impacts the bus.”

The bus was carrying 10 elderly and mentally challenged people who ranged in age from 26 to 92.

from her injuries. Zelienople resident after spending five days in the trauma unit at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh before being moved to a Butler Hospice.

The nine other people on the bus, including the driver, were taken to area hospitals to be treated for injuries.

"The impact also caused passengers to be ejected from the front of the bus to the rear of the bus,” the complaint said. “Passengers that were not restrained also violently collided with restrained passengers. This video shows a massive impact that obviously seriously injuring all passengers traveling on the bus."

After the train struck the white mini-bus broadside, spinning it around, Schaffner can be heard on the video saying, "Oh my God, there is no (expletive) railroad crossing there! Are you guys all right?"

He then called 911.

Schaffner is charged with two counts of homicide by vehicle, 10 counts of assault by vehicle, two counts of involuntary manslaughter, 10 counts of reckless endangerment and one count of failure to stop at a railroad crossing, according to court documents.

Schaffner’s attorney, Michael Pawk, has said his client told him he did not stop the bus on the tracks.

The Butler resident was arrested Thursday and released on $15,000 unsecured bond after being arraigned by video.

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BP May 11, 2013 at 05:36 AM
Did bad reporting get this driver RAILROADED? Just think how high this cover up goes and if a video needs tweaked the fog out of so it be tweaked. Again ---What color is the whistle post sign?
Mark A. May 11, 2013 at 04:24 PM
I'm sorry, most Patch readers don't speak stupidese. Try again.
BP May 11, 2013 at 05:42 PM
What color is the whistle post sign? Trains don't blow horns by ---well there's old Joes chicken house better start blowing. The cop says the train blew the horn but yet he didn't even know if there was a whistle sign or if it was obscured by brush. Evans city police have no clue on railroads. This isn't about the mickey mouse ma and pa railroad used to jack up prices and cut union wages but about the big boy railroads and the complete corruption on the missing signals. What the hell does this RR haul in it's two trips a day that it needs to kill people? Put a 15 foot board on front of the train with signals on a pulley system ---
BP May 11, 2013 at 05:47 PM
Well that and the city/county/state/Feds/railroad need a sacrificial lamb to cover their butts on the missing signals and trains running in the fog. Any of these idiots could have been caught in the same TRAP.

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