Police: Driver fell unconscious before Seton Hill bus crash
By Renatta Signorini
Published: Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013, 1:09 p.m.
A Johnstown man driving a Seton Hill University lacrosse team to a match in March may have suffered a medical emergency that led to the bus crashing along the Pennsylvania Turnpike, killing him and the team's pregnant coach, state police said.
At a news conference on Wednesday, Trooper Robert Hicks said physical evidence at the scene indicates that Anthony Guaetta, 61, was unconscious when the bus crashed at 8:50 a.m. on March 16 in Cumberland County.
“Speed was ruled out as a factor in the crash and no mechanical defects to the bus were found which would have contributed to this crash,” Hicks said in a news release. “All of the physical evidence is consistent with that of a crash involving an unconscious driver.”
The one-vehicle accident killed Guaetta; team coach Kristina Quigley, 30, of Greensburg; and her unborn son, Jackson.
Guaetta was driving the university's women's lacrosse team to a 1 p.m. match at Millersville University in a Mlaker Charter & Tours bus. Twenty-one others aboard were injured, police said.
The bus veered off the eastbound lanes of the turnpike, then hit a call box and a guardrail before smashing into a tree, about one mile east of the Carlisle interchange.
Hicks said a reconstruction of the crash showed the bus driver made no attempt to brake and the tires were “freely rolling” the entire time the bus veered off the highway.
“It also showed that the rear tires tracked on the tire marks of the front tires, which indicates that there was no attempt by the driver to steer,” Hicks said.
That information, paired with an autopsy report, led investigators to the conclusion that Guaetta fell unconscious.
An autopsy performed by a forensic pathologist on Guaetta “revealed that there was evidence to suggest that the driver could have suffered a medical condition, which could have caused sudden unconsciousness,” Hicks said in the news release.
The autopsy found damage to the driver's heart, whichcould indicate he suffered a heart attack or a stroke. Toxicology reports showed the driver did not have alcohol or drugs in his system, police said.
“There was enough total evidence to say he was unconscious during the crash, but not enough specific medical evidence to say exactly from what,” Hicks said.
Those findings were gleaned from a second autopsy, according to Cumberland County Coroner Charles Hall and police.
The original autopsy was conducted on March 18 through the coroner's office by Forensic Pathology Associates in Allentown, Hall said. That autopsy indicated that Guaetta's death was a result of blunt-force trauma, but showed no findings about the heart, Hall said.
The second autopsy was requested by the victim's family and the Somerset County bus company, according to investigators.
Quigley died of multiple traumatic injuries and her unborn child died of blood loss, according to autopsy reports.
The crash led to an outpouring of support for the lacrosse team locally and nationally as teams wore Seton Hill University's colors of crimson and gold.
Thousands were donated to a scholarship fund for Quigley's husband, Glenn Quigley, and their young son, Gavin.
The university cancelled the remainder of the team's 2013 season in a joint decision with players. It was Quigley's second season as coach.
Guaetta was a graduate of St. Vincent College who earned a master's degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He was employed by Health Net Federal Services, according to his obituary.
Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or email@example.com.
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