An MTA bus crashed into several parked cars on Madison Avenue on the Upper East Side Monday evening when the driver passed out behind the wheel, officials and witnesses said.
The Riverdale-bound bus slammed into the cars between 85th and 86th streets at about 7:45 p.m., officials said. Passengers told NBC 4 New York the bus driver passed out behind the wheel and the bus appeared to speed up on Madison before it hit the parked cars.
"I hear the woman next to me scream. The bus driver is passed out, and the bus is going faster. His foot must have been pressed on the gas," said passenger Leslie Batista.
One of the passengers, a daily commuter, ran from his fifth-row seat to take control of the wheel.
"I grabbed the wheel as soon as we started to hit cars," said Guy Praisler. "I just jumped on the wheel and grabbed the wheel. I was trying to figure out how to stop the bus."
Two people were taken to Lenox Hill Hospital with serious injuries, but they were listed in stable condition Monday night. Three people were taken to the same hospital with minor injuries and 15 people were treated at the scene or refused medical attention, officials said.
"I thank God we were not on a bridge, or on the highway," said Batista.
Officials say the unidentified driver has been on the job for more than 30 years.
Regular riders say the driver is "one of the most friendly" they know and described him appearing "shocked" when he regained consciousness and help arrived.
The investigation is ongoing.