PHILADELPHIA. A SEPTA bus driver is outraged that an elderly passenger died aboard her Market-Frankford Line Nite Owl bus early Sunday morning after both the control center and a supervisor told her to finish her route.
The incident began around 4 a.m. Sunday morning at 69th Street Terminal when the driver noticed that the man was unresponsive, had urinated on himself and was drooling. She called the control center, which told her to run the route because they did not want to “delay service,” according to an incident report.
At 15th Street, a supervisor got on board the bus, checked the man and told the driver he was breathing but unresponsive, then instructed her to continue to the Frankford Transportation Center where police would meet her. Roughly 40 minutes later at the terminal, Leonard Sedden, 68, was pronounced dead from heart failure and drug intoxication.
“It just boggles me that I was riding around and he was deceased and other passengers were getting on,” said the bus driver, Natika Manfra, who has driven for SEPTA for almost two years. “Could I have done anything to save him?”
SEPTA officials called the incident “unfortunate,” but insist protocol was followed.
“There was no indication whatsoever of a medical emergency,” said SEPTA spokesman Richard Maloney. “What it appeared to be was an intoxicated person who had passed out.”
SEPTA said the incident did not raise any red flags because there was no obvious sign of distress and it is common to have passengers inebriated on the system after bars let out on weekends.
Maloney noted that approximately 10 to 12 people die on SEPTA vehicles or in stations each year.
Transport Workers Union Local 234 said it plans to file a grievance.
“All this time this guy was in the vehicle and nobody gave him any attention?” said union president Willie Brown. “We could have saved this guy’s life possibly.”