Woman says she was passenger on CTA bus in fatal crash

SHARE Woman says she was passenger on CTA bus in fatal crash
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The CTA said there were no passengers on the bus in the fatal crash, but a woman says she was on the bus, and so were two other people. | Sam Charles/For the Sun-Times

A Columbia College student says she was one of three passengers on the CTA bus involved in a fatal crash downtown last week — contradicting the transit agency’s claim that the bus was empty save for the driver, the student’s lawyer said this week.

“My initial unfounded suspicion is just that [the CTA] didn’t want to create a feeding frenzy,” the woman’s attorney, Jon Topolewski, said. In other words: “Whenever there is a CTA accident, is everyone going to announce they were on the bus?”

Martine Antoine, 34, who was heading to her home on the North Side, suffered knee and neck injuries during the June 2 crash at Michigan Avenue and Lake Street that killed pedestrian Aimee Coath, 51, Topolewski said.

The bus, eastbound on Lake, had initially stopped at a red light at Michigan, then proceeded through the light, striking two pedestrians and at least three other vehicles before jumping the curb, police have said. The driver, Donald Barnes, was cited for failure to stop at a red light and failure to exercise due care, authorities said. Barnes is currently on injury leave.

Topolewski said he has no doubt Antoine was on the bus, based in part on her Ventra card data and a news photo that shows her at the scene.

“If they’re not being forthright of their reporting of that — seemingly a small aspect of this — what other things should we know that we aren’t being told?” Topolewski said.

A CTA spokeswoman said Tuesday that its statement that the bus had no passengers was based on information provided by Chicago Police and fire officials, who found no one onboard when they arrived.

Topolewski said his client doesn’t know if the other two passengers were injured during the crash. He plans to file a lawsuit soon on behalf of his client.

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