MTA Bus Driver Kills 7-Year-Old Shevon Bethea in the Bronx

New York City motorists have killed six children age 14 or under in the first five months of 2018, marking the first year-to-year increase in child traffic deaths in the Vision Zero era.

Video still: WPIX
Video still: WPIX

An MTA bus driver killed 7-year-old Shevon Bethea on Webster Avenue in the Bronx on Saturday. Reports conflict as to how the crash occurred. As of this afternoon police had filed no charges and NYPD and the MTA had not revealed the driver’s identity.

After consecutive years of decline in the Vision Zero era, the number of New York City children killed while walking and biking is on the rise. Motorists have killed six children age 14 or under in the first five months of this year, according to crash data tracked by Streetsblog. There were three such deaths in all of 2017, four in 2016, and six in 2015. Drivers killed eight kids walking and biking in 2014, the first year of the Vision Zero program, which aims to eliminate traffic fatalities by 2024.

Shevon Bethea
Shevon Bethea

According to reports, Shevon was riding a Razor scooter at around 3:30 p.m. when the driver hit him with a Bx41 Select Bus on Webster at E. 184th Street. Shevon sustained trauma to his body and was pronounced dead at Saint Barnabas Hospital.

“I heard something go ‘boom,’ turn around, and then I saw the kid lying on the ground,” a witness told WABC. “The bus hit the kid. The bus hit the kid hard, too, because the kid flew.”

NYPD told WABC the driver, a 38-year-old man, “had the green light.” AMNY reported that, according to unnamed police sources, Shevon “collided with the bus, which was crossing the intersection with a green light.”

However, the victim’s family told the Daily News that Shevon’s 10-year-old brother, who witnessed the crash, said the driver ran a red.

“He’s traumatized,” the boys’ mother, identified as Nickya, said. “He saw it, he watched him get hit. I have to deal with two sets of trauma.”

NY1 reported that Shevon was struck by the right front bumper of the bus before “falling clear.” Other reports said the bus driver dragged Shevon for some distance.

“The bus driver drove the kid to that corner underneath the bus. He didn’t even know,” a witness told WCBS. “Somebody stopped the bus, said, ‘[Y]o, sir, somebody’s under the bus, you hit a kid.’”

WABC said the driver came to a stop “almost a block away” from the point of impact.

According to the News, the bus driver told police he “didn’t see” the victim.

The NYPD public information office could not verify who had the right of way, and told Streetsblog the driver’s identity would not be released unless charges were filed. The spokesperson we talked with said the investigation remains open.

The MTA declined to provide Streetsblog with the driver’s name and safety record. NY1 cited anonymous sources who said the driver has been on the job for about three years.

MTA bus crashes have dropped precipitously since the city made it a misdemeanor to kill people who are walking and biking with the right of way — though the bus drivers’ union, Transport Workers Union Local 100, campaigned for nearly a year to make its members exempt from the law.

MTA bus drivers killed 14 people walking and biking from August 2014, when the Right of Way Law took effect, through 2015. Shevon Bethea was the fourth person killed by a bus driver since then, according to Streetsblog data.

“This is a tragic situation and our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of this young boy,” the MTA said in a statement after Shevon was struck. ”We are working closely with police.”

Update: Streetsblog has filed a freedom of information request with the MTA for the name and driving record of the bus driver involved this crash, as well as other documents pertaining to the collision.

  • William Lawson

    Well there you have it, the usual story – driver said he had the light so that’s that. Regardless of what the NYPD will tell you about this investigation being “ongoing,” the fact remains that as soon as *anyone* provides them with a viable excuse for closing the case and wrapping things up without having to charge anyone, they’ll snap at it. Doesn’t matter if it’s objective proof of anything, doesn’t matter how much incentive the driver has to lie, if they can close this case by saying it was the dead victim’s fault, they’ll do it without a second thought. Doesn’t matter if a child died, neither the NYPD or a single DA in this city care. All they’re concerned with is reducing their workload and cooking the crime books. If the NYPD were ordered to do their jobs and investigate these deaths properly – as potential cases of manslaughter – then they couldn’t handle the extra workload and the resulting crime stats would make them look bad. So, here we are. A criminal justice system which has an institutional policy of not treating vehicular homicides as crimes because it’s too much hassle.

    Let’s never forget how many times the NYPD has been caught lying or knowingly distributing false or flawed information after these collisions. Let’s not forget how many times camera footage – not found by them of course – has surfaced weeks after a death and has exposed the NYPD as liars.

    And let’s also not forget the likes of John Samuelson of the TWU, who has fought tooth and nail against every attempt to make MTA drivers legally responsible for the deaths they cause. This is the guy who thinks that bus drivers should be “exempt from the law” in vehicular homicide cases because they “do a hard job” and thus cannot help killing the occasional person.