RIPTA: No evidence of drugs, distraction in bus accident

A federal court security officer was struck by RIPTA bus in downtown Providence on Wednesday, May 28, 2014.

RIPTA officials said Thursday that a driver whose bus struck a federal court security officer in downtown Providence has been placed on administrative leave, which is standard procedure.

Frank McKnight, 69, of North Kingstown, was in critical condition at Rhode Island Hospital. He was crossing Washington Street in a crosswalk Wednesday when he was struck by the bus.

RIPTA CEO Raymond Studley said there is no indication that drugs, alcohol or a distraction such as a cell phone were factors. He said the driver, Katherine Gormley, 64, of Cranston, had just let off the last of her passengers at the end of an eight-hour shift and was headed back to headquarters.

RIPTA officials said Gormley is a 27-year employee and has been a bus driver for 15 years. They would not discuss her driving record.

"She's extremely distraught as is the rest of the transit authority and the public at large. This is a horrible, horrible tragedy," Studley said.

The bus was turning from Exchange Terrace onto Washington Street between the U.S. District Court House and the John O. Pastore Building when it struck McKnight, who was on duty. Police told the Associated Press they have video from the buildings that shows the accident.

Police took possession of the bus to inspect it for mechanical problems.

"The accident remains under investigation. We are still in the process of investigating the accident and gathering information and talking to people, so we're not going to release any further information other than what we have already," police Sgt. Paul Zienowicz said.

U.S. Marshal Jamie Hainsworth said McKnight has been employed as a court security officer for 13 years. Previously, McKnight served with the North Kingstown Police Department for about 25 years and retired with the rank of lieutenant.