Wounded bus driver gets passengers to safety

Posted: September 13, 2007

When gunfire erupted in Olney about 1 a.m., Malcolm McLaughlin kept driving his SEPTA bus even though a bullet had struck him in the back, a SEPTA official said.

A bullet also hit one of the bus' nine passengers in the hand.

McLaughlin, 44, was driving the Route K bus from East Falls to Frankford when two men started shooting at each other near Front and Champlost Streets.

"He was able to drive that bus about five blocks after being injured and keep the rest of the passangers safe," said SEPTA spokesman Felipe Suarez. "So it's a pretty heroic story if you ask me."

The driver is "resting comfortably" at Albert Einstein Medical Center with a gunshot wound to the lower left side of his back, Suarez said. "He's in pretty good spirits."

The wounded passenger, Anita Jackson, 36, was shot in the hand. She was treated at Einstein and released.

Drivers sometimes face such hazards as altercations on board and thrown objects hitting the bus, even breaking windshields, Suarez said. "I'm not aware of an operator recently being caught in the crossfire of gunfire taking place in the middle of a city street."

Suarez later added: "Unfortunately, this was a symptom of what's happening in the city," referring to the city's growing crisis of deadly violence.

He said McLaughlin, who has worked for SEPTA since 1993, has a daughter who is a freshman at a local college.

Meanwhile, at 2 a.m., a SEPTA bus collided with a bicycle at Broad and Master Streets in North Philadelphia. The rider was treated at Temple University Hospital and was released, Suarez said.

Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or pmucha@phillynews.com.

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