A runaway MTA bus rolled for blocks down one Brooklyn street, hitting nearly a dozen parked cars and a church, and sending one man who had been changing a tire leaping out of the way to to save his life, officials say.
Police say the novice MTA driver got out of the bus around 12:30 a.m. Wednesday in Bushwick, but left it in neutral. The bus, which wasn't carrying any passengers, then careened backward down the street for two blocks, smashing into 10 parked cars before striking a church.
Helpless witnesses watched in disbelief.
"As soon as we turned around, we saw the bus coming toward us, we jumped out of the way," said Khushbu Patel, who captured the shocking scene on her cellphone.
"The bus driver is running after the bus -- there's nobody in the bus, so we were just like, 'This cannot be happening,'" she said. "We were running after the bus, chasing it, telling people, 'Get out of the way! Get out of the way!'"
"The bus started going faster and faster, and after all the way from one block to the second, it hit the church," said another witness, Sachin Kumar.
"The way it was going I thought it was going to be big damage," said Kumar. "It could kill so many people."
The man who was changing his tire was injured as he jumped out of the way to avoid being hit by the uncontrollable bus, police said. He was taken to an area hospital, where he is in stable condition, according to police. A source familiar with the man's care said he wasn't hit by the bus, but that the manner in which he jumped away from the careening vehicle fractured a bone in his foot.
The victim's brother, Eric Rivera, said his brother is still in a lot of pain from his injury.
"The bus hit his car and his car hit him," Rivera said. "He flew into my neighbor's gate."
Rivera said it was a scary moment when he realized there was no driver on the bus.
"I hear people screaming so I got concerned," he said. "I got up to look and I see the bus coming in reverse."
The church was not severely damaged. The damaged cars and bus were towed away from the scene.
The 30-year-old driver was just three days into her new job, according to the Transport Workers Union, which represents MTA drivers. The TWU said in a statement they were grateful no one was seriously hurt and that the driver is "obviously very, very upset, and we're going to assist her."
The MTA says an investigation is underway and the agency will re-evaluate its training protocols and heighten safety measures. It was not immediately clear if the bus driver will face any charges.