by: Wendy Corona Updated:
DECATUR, Ga. - A train slammed into a MARTA bus Wednesday morning, and the bus driver’s quick thinking saved lives.
The bus driver of Route 123 always takes the bus across the railroad tracks to head north on McDonough Street in downtown Decatur. On Wednesday, bus driver Donna McMullen went over the tracks when it became stuck.
The light of the CSX train came westbound on the tracks toward the bus. Blair Meeks sat in his car alongside the railroad track watching it all unfold.
“It was a boom. It just sounded like, ‘crush’ right into the side of the bus. You heard metal crushing and then the dragging of the tires and it was scraping over the rocks and then, bang,” witness Blair Meeks said. “When it hit that crossing arm, it took that whole section down, a huge ‘boom.’”
The bus teetered on the rails.
“The engineer was on the horn, just holding it down,” Meeks said.
The bus was empty thanks to a quick evacuation by McMullen. She stood nearby with her passengers, all holding their breath.
Meeks said, “The train was coming. It wasn’t going very fast, but you knew he wouldn’t be able to stop. You were just wondering what was going to happen when that train hits that bus.”
The train pushed and spun the bus aside, making it look like a toy next to the unaffected train. All that was left of the bus was mangled metal.
No one was injured. The intersection will be closed for the next 24 hours to allow CSX to make repairs. Decatur police issued no citations.
McMullen has been placed on paid administrative leave while MARTA continues its investigation.