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MTA bus driver in Bronx crash denies he refused drug test

MTA bus driver in Bronx crash denies he refused drug test

The MTA driver who was behind the wheel of the bus that careened off a ramp and dangled from a Bronx overpass denied Saturday the agency’s claim that he refused to take a drug test after the wild smash-up.

“I did not refuse a drug test,” insisted Everton Beccan at a press conference at his Mount Vernon home, flanked by his daughter and Transport Workers Union reps.

“I don’t do drugs, I’ve got no reason not to take a drug test . . . I’m 1,000,000% absolutely sure it’s going to be negative. I’m not worried in the least about that,” said Beccan, 55, his jaw wired shut and face swollen from injuries sustained in the crash.

He said his neck and knee were also injured.

Beccan, an 11-year MTA veteran, was operating the Bx35 bus Thursday at around 11 p.m. when it veered off a University Avenue ramp leading to the Washington Bridge, leaving the front half of the bus hanging from the overpass. Eight people, including Beccan, were injured.

Everton Beccan answers questions to press outside his home in Mt. Vernon today.
Everton Beccan answers questions to press outside his home in Mt. Vernon today.
Dan Herrick

Beccan passed an alcohol breathalyzer test at the scene, but was uncooperative when the MTA asked him for a urine sample, the agency’s interim president, Sarah Feinberg, told reporters on Friday. 

“Our concern is that he then refused to participate in the FTA-mandated and MTA-mandated drug and alcohol test, which is extremely rare for someone not to cooperate with it, and obviously extremely troubling,” Feinberg said.

Beccan, who was suspended without pay pending an internal probe, has a clean driving record otherwise. 

A union rep said on Saturday that Beccan submitted his urine sample at the hospital Friday morning around 10 a.m., and a blood test was taken at 4 a.m. that day.

TWU Vice-President Richie Davis said they “have no idea” why the MTA would allegedly lie about Beccan.

MTA bus crash Major Deegan Expressway
An MTA bus is seen hanging off an overpass to the Major Deegan Expressway at University Avenue after it crashed through a fence in the Bronx Thursday night.
Christopher Sadowski

“That’s the just the MTA right there. They’ve got to look for someone to blame. I don’t know who gave them false information about me not taking a drug test,” Beccan said.

“That’s why I told the president of the union to call the press. I wanted to clear my name. I don’t want my kids seeing that I refused a drug test. They’re slandering my name all over the place like I’m a drug user,” he said.

“I tell them if they want me to take one now, tomorrow, any time. I could take it every day, all day and every day and it’s going to be negative, because I don’t do drugs.” 

In response to Beccan’s claims, the agency provided a detailed accounting of an MTA technician’s failed attempts to retrieve the sample directly from Beccan at the hospital the night of the crash.

An MTA bus is seen hanging off an overpass to the Major Deegan Expressway at University Avenue after it crashed through a fence in the Bronx Thursday night.
An MTA bus is seen hanging off an overpass to the Major Deegan Expressway at University Avenue after it crashed through a fence in the Bronx Thursday night.
Christopher Sadowski

The technician claims to have showed up at the hospital where Beccan was being treated at around 3 a.m. and asked an emergency room doctor to see him.

Within a span of 41 minutes, the doctor asked Beccan three times if he would see the rep, according to a statement from the technician.

GPS analysis shows the bus was also traveling almost five times faster than the allowable speed for the turn it was making, officials said.

“I told the doctor that he will need to tell me to my face that he was refusing the test and the consequences of not taking the test. The doctor went to his room to rely[sic] the message and he came back with the same answer that the employee refuse to take the test and he didn’t want to speak to me,” the technician’s statement said.

The driver on Saturday also denied accelerating through the turn. The Bx35 bus was going between 17 and 26 mph at the time of the crash, officials said; the appropriate speed is between 3 and 4 mph, according to the agency.

Beccan said he eased off the gas pedal as he was making the turn, but the bus accelerated instead.

“The bus just took off . . . If you operate a bus, you hit the breaks and you slow down when you make a turn, but the bus just took off on his own,” he said.

“I’m just thinking like, ‘Everybody’s going to die. It’s going over, I don’t know what’s going to happen.

Everton Beccan bus crash
Everton Beccan said he doesn’t use drugs in the aftermath of the bus crash.
Dan Herrick

“Everybody was just screaming.”

The union said it will investigate the cause of the crash, using data from the vehicle’s black box.

“This was a tragic incident for all involved and the MTA continues to provide the full facts to the public,” MTA spokeswoman Abbey Collins said Saturday night.

“Unfortunately, the bus operator refused his FTA and MTA-mandated drug and alcohol test multiple times.

“This is a straightforward, nonnegotiable, federally-mandated requirement of all bus operators and other safety sensitive personnel,” she added.

“We cannot make any exceptions to this requirement nor should we. The investigation remains ongoing and we will release more information when it is available.”

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Evan Lewis

With a knack for storytelling, Evan started News Brig about a year ago. Covering substantial topics under the Sports,, he helps information seep in deeper with creative writing and content management skills.

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