City Bus Driver Killed in Crash With Stolen Truck
GREENWICH VILLAGE — A city bus driver was killed and four people were injured when a stolen granola delivery truck crashed into an M14 bus and sent the two vehicles careening into nearby scaffolding, sources said.
Domonic Whilby, 22, the nephew of model Tyson Beckford, was driving the stolen truck south on Seventh Avenue when he slammed his vehicle into an eastbound M14 bus at the intersection with West 14th Street about 5:30 a.m., sources said.
The bus driver, William Pena, 49, was flung out a window of his vehicle and pronounced dead at the scene, sources said. Four other people were injured, including Whilby, officials said.
"I heard a boom," said 41-year-old Craig Ydolly, who was handing out free newspapers nearby.
"It sounded like a plow. The bus went into the building. It hit the scaffolding and it came down. I saw gasoline leaking from the front end of the bus."
Pena had been behind the wheel for 17 years, according to Earl Phillips of the Transit Workers Union.
"The entire MTA mourns the tragic loss of Mr. Pena, especially his colleagues at the Michael J. Quill Bus Depot in Manhattan," MTA chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Pena's family, and we are working closely with law enforcement to ensure the perpetrator of this crime is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."
All city buses are equipped with seatbelts for the drivers and the MTA requires that they wear them, a spokesman said. Accident investigators are trying to determined if Pena was wearing his at the time of the crash.
Whilby, of Griffin, Ga., was arrested after being treated at Bellevue Hospital for minor injuries, sources said.
He was knocked unconscious in the crash minutes after allegedly stealing the truck about four blocks away, sources said.
The NYPD had received a call about a man trying to break into at 347 West 16th St. through the fire escape, sources said. When officers arrived, they found a man there who said his box truck had just been stolen, police sources said.
Social media photos, which were later removed, show Whilby out the night before the crash with his uncle, celebrating the birthday of Australian-born model Shanina Shaik. Beckford's representative did not responded to a call and an email seeking comment.
Whilby, who sources believe was high at the time, saw the truck unattended with the engine running, jumped in and took off, sources said. He clipped the rear of the truck on the garage wall, knocking off one of the rear doors of the vehicle.
Eddie Abdelmaty, 51, a Long Island City carpenter, was driving his three-wheeled scooter to work on 16th Street across the street from the Dream Hotel when the stolen van sideswiped his vehicle, dragging it down the street.
"I got dragged 50 feet," he said. "When I heard [Pena] died, I cried, because it could have been me. I was the first one hit."
Officers canvassed the area and found the truck, emblazoned with the logo for 18 Rabbits granola, smashed into the Greenwich Village corner, the NYPD said.
A coffee vendor, Ashraf Marei, was treated at Bellevue for minor injuries, police and relatives said.
A customer of his who was injured in the crash was treated at Beth Israel Hospital, also for minor injuries, police said.
A bus passenger was cut on the head and also treated at Beth Israel, an NYPD spokesman said.
The injured vendor's cousin, 29-year-old Ehmad Shehata, also sells coffee at a nearby cart and was about a block away at the time of the crash.
"I heard a huge boom. It was a big, big, big noise. I ran over and saw the bus under the scaffolding. My cousin was inside the food cart. He was screaming. Hot water burned the side of his body. My cousin was crying. Everyone was calling 911," Shehata said.
Shehata said his cousin has five children and has been a vendor for the past 15 years.
18 Rabbits, a San Francisco-based granola company, said they were saddened by the news of the driver's death, but the truck was owned by a Farmingdale, NY, distribution company with which they were no longer affiliated.
With reporting by Murray Weiss, Gustavo Solis, and Ben Fractenberg.