BRTA bus driver on paid leave during fatal accident investigation


PITTSFIELD -- The driver of a bus that struck and killed a 61-year-old woman last week is on paid administrative leave pending an investigation into the accident, Berkshire Regional Transit Authority officials said on Wednesday.

Charles Hillard, of Pittsfield, has been on the leave since last Thursday's collision at the intersection of West and Center streets in Pittsfield.

The pedestrian, Jo Ann Losinger, a longtime communications and arts marketing specialist from Pittsfield, died on Sunday evening from injuries sustained in the accident.

BRTA General Manager Mark McClanan said it's standard procedure for a driver to be placed on paid administrative leave depending on the severity of the accident. According to longtime employees, this is the first fatality involving a BRTA vehicle in at least 30 years, according to McClanan. The transit authority started in 1974.

"To my knowledge and according to institutional knowledge, this is the first death for BRTA," McClanan said.

In addition to a Pittsfield Police Department investigation, the BRTA will conduct its own, which is standard procedure.

According to police, Losinger was crossing the intersection from the area of Big Y Supermarket at the crosswalk heading east on West Street, near Greylock Federal Credit Union. Hillard was driving the No. 4 Dalton-Hinsdale route and making a left-hand turn from West Street into the northbound lane of Center Street when the bus struck Losinger.

Hillard has been a full-time bus driver since 2002, but he's been a BRTA driver on a part-time basis since the early 1990s. McClanan declined to discuss specifics about Hillard's driving record, but he said, "He has not shown anything that would give a red flag."

On Friday, the transit authority turned over videotape from bus cameras to the Pittsfield Police Department.

Police have previously said they are investigating details such as who had the right of way, whether a crosswalk signal was being utilized at the time, and the rate of speed the bus.

Anyone who witnessed the accident is encouraged to contact Pittsfield Police Officer James McIntyre at (413) 448-9700, ext. 341, with any additional information.


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