A 24-year-old Altoona man is in serious condition after slamming into the side of an Amtran bus on Juniata Gap Road, police said.
The bus was crossing Juniata Gap Road from East Cherry Avenue onto North Eighth Avenue at about 12:57 p.m. when the motorcyclist, who was traveling from the direction of East Chestnut Avenue, struck the right front side of the bus, just behind the wheel, police said.
Police had not identified the cyclist nor the driver late Friday, pending further investigation.
Mirror photo by Greg Bock
Altoona Police Cpl. Sam McClure takes photographs on Friday on Juniata Gap Road where a motorcycle broadsided an Amtran bus. Please see Page A3 for the full story.
Altoona police closed Juniata Gap Road between East Chestnut and East 21st avenues for several hours as crash reconstructionist Sgt. Daniel DeAntonio and other officers took measurements and mapped out the scene.
The motorcyclist was taken by AMED to Altoona Regional Trauma Center in serious condition, police said. The motorcyclist was wearing a half helmet, or shell, police said. The cyclist was later flown to Pittsburgh for further treatment.
Amtran General Manager Eric Wolf said Amtran is investigating the crash, one he said was serious enough to require drug and alcohol testing for the driver as pursuant to Federal Transit Authority guidelines.
Based on protocol, Amtran pulled the driver off duty with pay for testing, Wolf said. The driver will be off duty at least until the results come back, which will probably be a day or two.
"The driver is a longtime employee with an excellent safety record," Wolf said.
Once police have finished their questioning of the driver and review of the crash, Amtran supervisors trained in accident investigation will speak with the driver and try to find out what happened, Wolf said.
Wolf indicate the bus was headed toward Ivyside and coming down East Cherry Avenue from Fairview at the time. The motorcycle approached from the bus's right on Juniata Gap Road, Wolf said, but Amtran is getting conflicting information about what happened beyond that.
If testing shows there were drugs or alcohol involved, Amtran follows a policy it has in place, Wolf said. He didn't elaborate if the testing indicates no drugs or alcohol, but the driver is at fault anyway, whether the driver is subject to progressive discipline, as outlined for preventable accidents.
The progressive discipline, a four-step program, involves a written warning, a second written warning, suspension and then termination, Wolf said.
If an accident is severe enough, Amtran can go straight to suspension and termination, Wolf said. If the driver was not at fault, Amtran tries to get him or her back to driving as soon as possible.
As of 2 p.m., bus service was back to normal, Wolf said.
Mirror Staff Writer Greg Bock is at 946-7458. Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.