RIPTA driver put on administrative leave

A Rhode Island Public Transit Authority bus driver was placed on administrative leave following an crash that injured two women.

But the action wasn't taken because of the accident itself. He's accused of talking on his cellphone, which may have caused the crash.

A woman who rode the RIPTA bus in Middletown on Monday said she clearly heard the bus driver take a personal call while driving the bus.

A short time later, the bus struck a 2009 Honda in a shopping plaza on East Main Road.

Two women sent to a hospital were passengers on the RIPTA bus. Police said the women may have been thrown from their seats during the accident. They complained about neck and back pain.

RIPTA officials said if it turns out the driver was on his cellphone, further action will be taken.

"They are not allowed to take the call. They can pull over to the side of the road and answer the call. But the vehicle cannot be moving when they use a phone," said Mark Therrien, RIPTA assistant general manager for planning.

In a police report, the RIPTA driver takes responsibility for the crash, saying he didn't see the Honda next to him. There is no mention of the cellphone in either witness testimony.