Police investigate pills held by driver in fatal Butler County bus crash
The driver of a bus struck by a freight train at an Evans City rail crossing on Friday had pills that didn't match the labels of the bottles they were in, according to a copy of a police search warrant obtained by the Tribune-Review.
Frank Schaffner's attorney said Wednesday that his client told him that the pills were not prescription medication that would impair his driving ability.
“It's my understanding that his toxicology results should come back clean,” attorney Michael Pawk of Butler said.
Pawk said Shaffner told him that the pills were fiber supplements and TUMS.
The attorney said he was not allowing Schaffner to talk with the media.
Schaffner, 59, of Butler Township, was driving the Butler Area Rural Transit bus with 10 senior or physically disabled passengers when a train hit it at the Maple Avenue rail crossing in heavy fog. Police have not charged Schaffner.
The crash killed Claudette Miller, 91, of Callery, and injured nine other passengers and Schaffner. The impact lifted the bus and tossed it into a ravine.
Evans City Police Chief Joseph McCombs said Schaffner hasn't talked to investigators. McCombs refused to discuss the pills police found. Authorities are awaiting test results from Schaffner's blood.
“We're not letting anything go at this point,” McCombs said.
McCombs said his department likely would release a statement about the status of the investigation early next week.
Hours after the crash, police obtained a search warrant to draw blood from Schaffner to test “for presence and concentration of alcohol or controlled substances,” Evans City police Officer Trina Loesch wrote.
In the warrant, Loesch wrote that after the crash, “The actor (Schaffner) also had in his possession two pill bottles that contained various pills that did not match the labeling on the bottles.”
McCombs said at least three people remain in Pittsburgh hospitals. Two were in critical condition.
The three-member crew of the 31-car freight train, which was hauling asphalt, told police that Schaffner's bus was stopped on the railroad tracks at the fog-shrouded crossing.
The crew said they blew the train's whistle as a warning as they approached. Federal officials said the train adhered to the 25 mph speed limit.
Pawk said Schaffner said he had stopped before crossing the tracks, and was crossing it slowly when the train hit. Pawk added that a witness said the train crew did not blow a warning whistle until just moments before the crash.
The rail crossing, which police said is used infrequently, does not have gates or warning signals.
Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Number of jobs in high-tech industry outpace workers in Pittsburgh, nation
- Mandated sewer project to increase Alcosan customers’ bills
- Air Conditioning Contractors, Peoples partner on furnace cleanings for low-income residents
- Nonprofits replace humdrum charity 5Ks with rappelling
- Identical twins born at West Penn Hospital a rare medical marvel
- Allegheny police seek non-custodial dad, missing 4-year-old son
- Internet access still out of reach for some, Census figures show
- Latest flu vaccines offer protection from 4 influenza strains instead of traditional 3
- Pittsburgh Public evacuates 3 schools after voicemail threat
- Preparation for drilling closes 1 lane of Thompson Run Road in Ross
- Artist who painted Wilkinsburg house raises funds for ‘gentle demolition’