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Victim killed by bus recalled as ‘sweet woman'

Gayle M. Johnson

Johnson family

Gayle M. Johnson

REVERE - Gayle Johnson may have been struck and killed by the same MBTA bus the lifelong resident of Revere took home last night from her job in the mailroom of a bank in Wellington Circle, Johnson’s sister said today.

Johnson, 52, was identified by authorities as the person hit by an MBTA bus in the 400 block of Broadway about 6:55 p.m. Tuesday. The 56-year-old driver of the MBTA bus showed no visible signs of impairment according to authorities and has not been charged with the death of Johnson who was struck near a Revere fire station before being dragged down the street, officials said.

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In an emotional interview at the Haddon Street home where Johnson grew up and still lived, sibling Karen Johnson said Gayle Johnson got off the MBTA bus near where the incident took place and that she usually arrived there at the time of the Tuesday night fatal incident.

Authorities have not confirmed that Johnson was on the bus that hit her, but have said the investigation is continuing.

Jake Wark, spokesman for Suffolk District Attorney Dan Conley, said the driver was subjected to drug and alcohol testing and the results have been subpoenaed by investigators.

Authorities said the woman was dragged after she was hit and the bus left the area.

After an investigation, officials determined the bus had struck the woman.

“Since its first moments, this has been a careful and methodical investigation,” Conley said in a statement. “Ms. Johnson and her loved ones deserve nothing less than our best efforts.”

Wark said the State Police reconstruction unit and other investigators are performing a scientific analysis of the crash to determine the speed of the vehicle. They are also looking for any surveillance video from the area, prosecutors said.

Gayle Johnson, according to her sibling, was the emotional bedrock for her family, which also included their brother. Karen Johnson said she and her sister helped care for their mother after she suffered a stroke, and that their mother died three years ago.

“She was the wind beneath the wings of the family,’’ Karen Johnson said.

Karen Johnson described her sibling as a quiet woman who worked for an insurance company for many years until she was laid off about six years ago. She worked part-time jobs afterwards, especially when their mother was ill, before landing a job with the bank.

“I want people to know she was a very sweet person,’’ Karen Johnson said.

Karen said that when her sister did not return home around 7 p.m., she repeatedly called her sister’s cellphone, but was immediately sent to voice mail. As the night lengthened and Gayle did not return, Karen said she called their brother to see if she was overreacting or whether she should call the police.

About that time, Revere police showed up at her home, prompting Karen Johnson to repeatedly ask them the same question. “Where’s my sister? Where’s my sister,’’ Karen Johnson said she asked the officers.

After learning her sister was dead, Karen Johnson said she watched television news reports about the crash. And when one news station slowly focused its camera on her sister’s shoes that lay on the street, Johnson said she started asking herself another question.

“I want to find out did she feel any pain,’’ she said “I pray to God it was over in an instant.’’

Peter Schworm can be reached at schworm@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @globepete.John R. Ellement can be reached at ellement@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.

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