The driver of a Greyhound bus that overturned Sept. 14 on Interstate 75, injuring dozens of passengers, choked on his coffee and passed out just prior to the crash, state highway patrol officials confirmed Monday.
The bus, bound for Detroit with 51 passengers, went off the highway between a rest area and the Ohio 63 exit in Monroe, according to reports. The bus landed on its side in a cornfield several hundred yards from the right side of the freeway. The bus driver, Dwayne Garrett, 64, of Pleasant Ridge, and 37 passengers were transported to area hospitals.
Ohio State Highway Patrol officials said Monday that Garrett was drinking hot coffee when he began coughing violently and then passed out behind the wheel. Charges could be filed later this week against Garrett, who told investigators that he didn’t recall the actual crash, said Lt. Ed Mejia, of the patrol’s Hamilton post.
Witnesses riding the bus verified Garrett’s story that he had passed out after choking on hot coffee, Mejia said.
The Greyhound bus left the Cincinnati terminal at 2:55 a.m. and was due to arrive in Detroit at 7:15 a.m. with no stops or layovers.
At least 125 emergency responders from Butler and Warren counties were at the scene of the crash.
CareFlight and AirCare helicopter units landed on the shut-down lanes of I-75 to transport injured passengers. Triage care was given to some at the scene, said Jeff Galloway of the Butler County Emergency Management team of the Sheriff’s Office.
The coach had been inspected 14 days ago by federal inspectors, according to reports. They are required by Federal law to be inspected every 12,000 miles.
Garrett had a clean driving record and has been with Greyhound for more than 15 years, Ryan LaFontaine, a senior communications specialist for the company, said.
Garrett is still employed with Greyhound but has been placed on “inactive status,” which is standard policy for the company whenever a driver is involved in accident on the job, LaFontaine said. Once the investigation into the crash has been completed, the company will decide if, and what type of, action will be taken regarding Garrett’s employment status.