The driver of a stolen box truck is in police custody after a collision with an MTA bus in Greenwich Village early this morning left its driver dead and four others injured.
Sources say the M14 bus was heading east when it collided with the truck at the southeast corner of 14th Street and Seventh Avenue shortly before 5:30 a.m.
The crash sent both vehicles into a nearby scaffolding covering an unoccupied Chase Manhattan Bank branch.
The bus was half-full with passengers at the time.
The bus' driver, identified as William Pena, 49, was ejected and pronounced dead at the scene.
A passenger on the bus, a coffee vendor and the vendor's customer were sent to nearby hospitals in stable condition.
"It hit under the scaffolding, the scaffolding came down, so I went to the side to check, I went and grabbed my rack. I looked, see a guy on the floor, by the donut stand, and then I look under the bus, because the bus is right by the train station where it hit at the end, and there was just gasoline leaking from the bottom, so I just took off," said one eyewitness.
Sources say it all began when a truck was stolen by a 22-year-old man on West 16th Street following a burglary attempt nearby.
The truck then hit a cab and a three-wheel scooter before colliding with the M14 bus.
Sources say the driver of the truck was initially unconscious. They say he woke up as he was being taken to Bellevue Hospital where he was questioned and arrested.
In a statement, the MTA said the agency is mourning the "tragic loss" of Pena, a 17-year veteran who is survived by his wife and teenage daughter.
They went on to say, "Our thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Pena’s family, and we are working closely with law enforcement to ensure the perpetrator of this crime is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. The safety of our customers and our employees remains our most important priority."
Pena's colleagues say he was only on his second run of the day.
"We started getting the calls that there was a fatality and then to find out that it's our brother, it's one of our brothers that fall. This is hard for us. Very, very hard," said Earl Phillips of TWU Local 100.
"We're all bus operators and this what we do for a living and seeing this is not where we want to be at," said Frank Austin, a TWU Local 100 member.
Meanwhile, Seventh Avenue remains closed off between 13th Street and 23rd Street; 14th Street is also closed from Sixth Avenue to Eighth Avenue.
The MTA has also rerouted some buses.
Both eastbound and westbound M14 buses will travel up to 23rd Street to avoid the scene, and come back down to 14th Street to get back on their respective routes.
The southbound M7 will make its final stop at 23rd Street and Seventh Avenue.