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MBTA fires driver who crashed bus in Newton

Shanna S. Shaw and family members left Newton District Court Tuesday.

Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff

Shanna S. Shaw and family members left Newton District Court Tuesday.

A MBTA bus driver who allegedly had a cellphone in her hand when she crashed the vehicle in Newton, causing it to hang over the Massachusetts Turnpike, has been fired, an official said.

Shanna Shaw, 43, of Mattapan, was terminated from her job, said the official, who was briefed on the firing but requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

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Shaw’s lawyer declined to comment on the termination, and her union president did not respond to inquiries on Wednesday night. A woman who answered the phone at Shaw’s residence declined to speak to a reporter.

On Tuesday, Shaw pleaded not guilty in Newton District Court to a charge of obstruction of justice for allegedly lying to investigators probing the crash, which occurred on May 18 the Washington Street overpass and left the bus dangling over the Turnpike.

Shaw and seven passengers were hospitalized with various injuries, none of which were deemed life-threatening.

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An employee of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority since 1996, Shaw had originally claimed that she suffered from a severe case of seasonal allergies that had caused her to sneeze continuously and lose sight of the road, police said in an affidavit.

But police said that footage from an internal surveillance camera on the bus showed that Shaw was holding what appeared to be a cellphone in her left hand in the moments leading up to the crash.

Under MBTA rules, train and bus operators are not allowed to have a cellphone in their possession while on the job, and drivers caught using their phones are subject to termination.

Shaw is the 15th worker to be fired under the phone policy since it took effect in 2009, according to MBTA statistics.

Martine Powers of the Globe Staff and Globe correspondent Jacqueline Tempera contributed to this report. Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.
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