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Woman Says She Was On CTA Bus During Fatal Crash, Despite Initial CTA Reports

By Rachel Cromidas in News on Jun 9, 2015 4:45PM

The question of what caused the CTA bus driver that fatally struck a pedestrian a week ago to run a red light in the first place is still unanswered.

Now there's a new wrinkle to the case: CTA officials say the bus was empty, save for its driver, when it ran the light at Michigan Avenue and Lake Street, but a Chicago woman has told the Tribune that she was on the #148 bus during the crash, along with several other passengers. The discrepancies in her story and the facts presented by police and fire officials and the CTA cast doubt on the ongoing investigation into the cause of the crash.

Police and CTA officials have declined to provide video footage from the cameras inside the bus to reporters or comment on what the footage shows. While authorities have said the bus was stopped at a red light facing east on Lake Street before the driver, Donald Barnes, drove into traffic and crashed into a concrete plaza wall, Martine Antoine, 34, has a different version of events, telling the Tribune she heard the driver shout something about a vehicle in his path moments before the crash:

"I was on my phone texting when I heard the bus driver saying something like, 'What is this guy doing?' or 'Hey, guy!' " Antoine said in a phone interview with the Tribune. ...

"It didn't feel like the driver ever made a complete stop" at the red light on Lake before attempting a left turn onto Michigan, she said. "I thought something was wrong when there was a pause and then he kept going," she said. "I felt him yield, then the bus kept going and I saw these cars to the left and right and a building directly in front of me. It was literally something out of an action movie."

Antoine described the crash as very violent, saying she was thrown out of her seat and collided with seats in front of her. "It was extremely frightening, and my heart was racing," she said.

Antoine also remembers at least two other passengers were on the bus with her. Eight people were reportedly injured in the crash.

Antoine was contacted by a Chicago police detective Monday regarding Barnes' first court date, according to her attorney. Barnes has been issued two traffic citations in the wake of the fatal crash. A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed by the family of the victim, Aimee Coath, 51, of Flossmoor Monday.