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Bus driver in crash that killed Seton Hill coach had no drugs or alcohol in system

| Monday, March 25, 2013, 11:24 a.m.

A Johnstown tour bus driver who crashed along the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Cumberland County March 16, killing the Seton Hill University women's lacrosse coach, her unborn child and himself, had no prior medical condition or intoxicants in his system, Coroner Charles E. Hall said.

Hall said toxicology test results received by his office on Monday disclosed no evidence of drugs or alcohol in Anthony M. Guaetta's system in the crash near the Carlisle interchange.

Guaetta, 61, was driving the Seton Hill lacrosse team from Greensburg to Millersville University for a game when the bus inexplicably went off the roadway and crashed into a tree.

Guaetta died at the scene. Coach Kristina Quigley, 30, who was six months pregnant, died of her injuries. Her unborn son did not survive.

Last week, Hall ruled Guaetta died of blunt-force trauma. An autopsy disclosed no evidence that he had a prior medical condition, he said.

However, Hall said Guaetta could have experienced a sudden traumatic medical event, such as a heart attack, but no evidence to that effect showed up in the autopsy by Forensic Pathology Associates of Allentown or other tests on the driver.

“I'm not saying (a major medical event) is not possible, but evidence of such an event or medical condition that could lead to an event did not show up in the autopsy. It does not necessarily mean a sudden event did not happen ... anything is possible,” Hall said.

“A very current event possibly may not show up in an autopsy,” the coroner said.

Hall said he receives a preliminary report from the pathologist following an autopsy that he uses to determine the cause and manner of death.

“My job is not to determine what caused the bus crash. ... That's the job of state police. My job is to rule on the cause and manner of death and based on the information I have, and that was due to multiple blunt-force trauma caused by injuries sustained in the accident,” Hall said.

The lead state police investigator, Trooper Timothy Buell of Troop T, said he has not ruled out anything that could have caused the crash, including a possible medical event or equipment malfunction.

He had not received the formal report from the forensic pathologist who performed the autopsy for Hall's office, so police have not ruled out that Guaetta possibly suffered an extreme medical event that caused him to veer off the roadway.

Police said the bus was traveling east when it left the turnpike, hit an emergency call box and guardrail, then traveled 75 yards before smashing into a tree, a mile east of the Carlisle interchange.

Hall said the formal pathology reports normally take six to eight weeks to arrive at his office.

“Possibly that formal (pathologist's) report may contain some kind of information. ... Until we get it, we don't know. We also have two accident reconstructionists working on this, and we have experts inspecting the bus equipment recovered from the site,” Buell said.

“It's going to be several weeks before we are able to receive all of these reports, put them together and make a determination on what possibly caused this terrible accident. It's a major, ongoing investigation,” Buell said.

A state police report showed Guaetta was wearing his lap and shoulder belt.

There were no apparent signs that he attempted to apply the brakes or avoid hitting the tree, according to Buell.

Paul Peirce is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-850-2860 or ppeirce@tribweb.com.

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