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August 12, 2015

Police investigating Chinatown bus involved in possible hit-and-run

Accident killed 48-year-old South Philadelphia man

Accidents Fatalities
Hit and Run Contributed Art/Philadelphia Police

Police say this bus fatally struck a pedestrian crossing the intersection of North Franklin and Race streets Tuesday morning.

Update: Police have identified the victim as Joseph Heard, a 46-year-old South Philadelphia man. 

Police are investigating a tour bus driver suspected of being involved in a possible hit-and-run accident that killed a pedestrian in front of police headquarters Tuesday in Center City.

A 46-year-old South Philadelphia man was killed after being struck by a bus as he crossed the intersection at North Franklin and Race streets around 9:47 a.m. The victim, whose name has not been released, was pronounced dead at 10:14 a.m. after being transported to Hahnemann University Hospital.

Capt. John Wilczynski said police identified a local Chinatown company bus as the vehicle suspected of striking the pedestrian. The bus, en route from Chinatown to Washington, has returned to South Philadelphia, where police are examining the vehicle and interviewing its driver.

Wilczynski declined to name the bus company due to the early state of the investigation.

Police identified the suspected bus — white with tinted windows — through surveillance video that depicted the incident.

The victim was crossing Franklin Street, heading east, when the bus turned left in the same direction, striking the pedestrian on the driver's side, Wilczynski said. The bus dragged the pedestrian about 50 feet before leaving the scene.

Police do not know whether the driver — a male whose name was not released — knew he hit the pedestrian.

"There is a possibility that he may not have known," Wilczynski said. "I haven't encountered that situation, where somebody didn't know, but that certainly is possible. ... It's early on yet, so we have to talk to the driver and inspect the bus to see what we have."

If the driver knowingly struck the pedestrian, Wilczynski said he could be charged with leaving the scene of an accident.

Speed did not appear to be a factor, Wilczynski said. Police recovered a pair of headphones from the scene, but Wilczynski was unsure whether the pedestrian was wearing them or distracted. The intersection does not have a traffic signal.

Wilczynski also did not know whether any passengers were on the bus. Police have not found any witnesses from the scene.

"So far, we didn't get any witnesses," Wilczynski said. "Unfortunately, that's not unusual. Naturally, we're hoping that ... someone who saw it — who was driving by or walking by — will call us with additional information. It would be very helpful and it can be anonymous."

Staff writer Christina LoBrutto contributed to this story.