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Pedestrian killed by Metrobus in Olney

A metrobus in downtown Washington D.C., Friday, December 14, 2012
A Metrobus struck a man in Olney in Montgomery County. He later died at the hospital. (Photo: Graeme Jennings/Examiner)

A 50-year-old Montgomery County pedestrian died after he was hit by a Metrobus late Wednesday in Olney, according to Montgomery County police.

Ronald Maurice Johnson of Brookeville was hit as a Metrobus pulled away from the curb at Georgia Avenue near Olney-Sandy Spring Road around 11:08 p.m. The Y9 bus had just picked up riders in the southbound lanes as it headed to the Silver Spring Metrorail stop.

Johnson appears to have been standing on the side of the road, and had not been boarding the bus, said Montgomery County Officer Rebecca Innocenti. He appears to have fallen into the roadway and the path of the bus, she said.

Initially, Johnson's injuries did not appear serious, but he died at 5:55 a.m. at Suburban Hospital after his condition worsened, police said.

The bus driver, Anthony Whitaker, 54, of Silver Spring was tested for drugs and alcohol, as is standard after any Metro crash. Whitaker, a Metrobus driver for seven years, was also put on paid leave pending the investigation, Metro spokesman Philip Stewart said.

No charges had been filed as of Thursday, Innocenti said. The case remains under investigation as police await autopsy and toxicology results to see if drugs or alcohol may have played a factor in Johnson's fall or the bus driver's role.

The death was the second time in less than a year that a Metrobus has killed a pedestrian.

In September, another man was killed by a Metrobus on 14th Street just north of Columbia Heights in D.C. after he was spotted lying in the street on a rainy night. That bus driver told police he had been talking with a rider and did not notice a taxi swerve out of the way to avoid the man. But Metro said the crash was unavoidable.

Such deaths are unusual for the agency, despite an average of about six Metrobus crashes a day. Before the incident last fall, the last time a pedestrian was killed by a Metrobus was in 2009, according to the transit agency. Metro had a spate of such deaths in 2007 that led to safety reforms.