University News

Student injured in RIPTA bus crash

Incapacitated bus driver results in crash as student onboard sustains injury from attempt to hit brake

Staff Writer
Thursday, February 18, 2016

A Rhode Island Public Transit Authority bus crashed into a building on Post Road in Warwick Jan. 25. Will Adams ’16, who was aboard the bus, suffered serious injuries and has been recovering at an in-patient rehabilitation clinic in Providence.

According to RIPTA’s accident summary — provided to The Herald by Barbara Polichetti, director of public affairs for RIPTA — the bus struck a telephone pole and traveled 1,000 feet north before ramming into a commercial building at 7:08 p.m. According to the summary, Warwick police said the bus driver may have suffered a medical problem prior to the crash, but due to health privacy laws, no further details could be provided.

Adams, who had been traveling back to Brown after winter break, suspected that the driver was unwell.

He “made some loud noises, like grunts,” Adams said.

Adams saw the windshield had been broken and walked to the front of the bus to “see what was going on.” He saw that though the driver’s eyes were open, he was unconscious. “He couldn’t move the steering wheel,” Adams said.

Adams was looking for the brake at the moment the bus crashed. After the impact, he remained trapped in the bus for an hour and 15 minutes and was injured along with the driver and a fellow passenger. He received multiple fractures, underwent surgery and has been completing three hours of physical therapy daily since the accident, he said.

Due to his injuries, Adams has missed the past three weeks of classes, but he said the University has been extremely accommodating. “Professors have been really nice,” he said. Adams has Skyped into one of his classes twice and has been able to submit a few writing assignments through email.

Though the experience was disruptive for Adams, he said it “hasn’t been completely negative.” Now, he has newfound respect for firefighters and nurses. When his “legs were stuck under … metal and materials from the bus and the dashboard,” Adams “got to see (firefighters) being heroes” as they dug him out of the wreckage. He added that he has had “passionate, kind and caring nurses” at the rehabilitation clinic and is “overwhelmed and inspired” by their work.

“I got to see people being heroes — what that takes and what that looks like,” he said.

He added that this experience has empowered him, as he “was able to make it through” the hazardous accident. “I’ve seen a lot of things that I never thought I’d experience,” Adams said.  “It was surreal.”

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