Montgomery County RideOn crash: Brakes didn't fail, driver fails to appear at hearing

The family that lives in the house has not been able to return home. Photo: Montgomery County Police

An investigation into the Aug. 20 crash of a Montgomery County RideOn bus into a Silver Spring home has revealed no major mechanical flaws in the bus, despite claims by the driver that the brakes did not slow it down before it crashed.

The crash happened just before 11 a.m. in the 9400 block of Avenel Drive, when the bus careened off the road and into the side of the house. The driver said he lost control of the brakes as it went down a hill on nearby Stateside Drive.

A few people on the bus, including the driver, suffered minor injuries. No one inside the home was injured at the time, but the family that lives there still has not been able to return.

The veteran driver, 64-year-old Emlyn Harewood, has been adamant that the brakes failed. He is on paid leave pending the outcome of the investigation, but when he was supposed to meed with county officials for a hearing on the crash last week, Harewood never showed up.

"There was no malfunction on the brakes," Montgomery County spokesman Patrick Lacefield said. "If he has something to say about it - why it happened and what the factors were - we want to hear it."

Officials say that the Harewood's future employment with the agency could be affected by the outcome of a full investigation.

County officials don't suspect drugs or alcohol are factors in the crash. However, several neighborhood residents have repeatedly expressed concern about buses going too fast in this stretch of residential road.

"There are always kids around this neighborhood as well, so it's another safety issue," neighborhood resident Rachel Serpas said.

The bus sustained about $50,000 in damage and there's still no word on how much it will cost to repair the house.