As of Sept. 24, a Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit (TCAT) bus driver is still out on leave to recuperate from injuries he sustained after being assaulted by a pedestrian on Sept. 6 on Clinton Street.
The driver in question was driving a Route 67 bus that was traveling on Clinton Street when it struck and killed a dog. Following protocol, the driver pulled to the side of the road and notified TCAT dispatchers about the incident, according to a TCAT statement in response to the Ithaca Times' questions.
"Shortly after that, the dog’s owner confronted the bus driver and hit him several times," the statement said. "Upon arriving on the scene, TCAT safety officials and Ithaca police officers assisted the bus driver, who suffered lacerations to his face. Police officers interviewed passengers and witnesses. TCAT brought in a replacement bus operator to continue driving the route."
The Ithaca Police Department’s investigation into the incident is ongoing.
"It is an ongoing investigation, the suspect has not been located,' IPD spokesperson Jamie Williamson said. "If I understand correctly the charges will be violation level harassment."
The bus operator was transported via ambulance and treated at Cayuga Medical Center and released, with a friend accompanying him to his home. He is now recovering from the injuries to his face, according to TCAT's release.
"The injuries were severe enough to require medical attention," TCAT spokesperson Patty Poist said. 'Our driver experienced lacerations that required stitches and he suffered significant bruising. Though not life threatening, his injuries were significant, and we are taking this assault very seriously. This would be a traumatic event for anyone to experience."
In a statement, TCAT General Manager Scot Vanderpool said he was profoundly saddened by the incident. Vanderpool said he's unaware of any similar incident involving a TCAT driver over the last 10 years at least, as that's as far back as the agency's records go.
“We are saddened that an already tragic situation spiraled out of control and resulted in these terrible injuries to our bus operator,” Vanderpool said. “Our bus operators are trained to incorporate the best safety practices in their day to day duties as professional drivers. A big part of their training also focuses on customer service as bus operators are faced with many different situations while serving the public. Our investigation clearly shows that this was an accident; that our bus operator was operating the bus safely when the dog ran in the path of the vehicle. Unfortunately, there was nothing our bus operator could do to avoid striking the dog.”