A bus accident on Friday, Oct. 29 left senior Melissa Hoke seriously injured in Strong Memorial Hospital. 

“We join Melissa’s parents, Debbie and Brian Hoke, and her other family and friends in wishing her a speedy recovery, “Dean Richard Feldman said of the accident  in the Oct. 31 edition of the “Weekly Buzz” e-mail notice.

Hoke was traveling in a shuttle bus on its way to the 19th Ward when she fell out of the bus’s rear emergency door at approximately 10 p.m., close to the intersection of Intercampus Drive and Library Road. 

MERT responded to the incident and provided emergency care to Hoke, who was taken to Strong Memorial Hospital’s Trauma unit. The bus did not continue its route and “remained at the scene of the accident for some time,” according to Feldman. It was subsequently inspected by the New York Department of Transportation and Rochester Police Department. No problems were found with the vehicle or its emergency door. The bus has since returned to service.

The bus involved in the accident is operated by the public transportation service First Transit, which serves UR. All First Transit buses are given pre-trip inspections to ensure that they are safe for travel. 

“The bus [in the accident] was pre-checked and taken back to a garage for inspection afterward, and there was no problem,” Timothy Stokes, First Transit’s company spokesperson, said. The bus’s rear emergency door is operated by a lever, which must be forcibly pushed up for the door to be opened. 

However, a bus driver does not receive any notification if the rear emergency door is not fully secured — unlike a bus’s main exit door, which comes equipped with an interlocking device that prevents the bus from moving when the door is open.

First Transit is currently investigating the accident, and a report on it is forthcoming. UR will also be conducting its own review of the accident. Senior Vice President Ron Paprocki is appointing a team of investigators that will include representatives from the Dean of Students office, Facilities and Security. 

“We want to satisfy ourselves that we know the cause(s) and to identify any steps that can be taken to increase safety,” Feldman said.

The accident was officially announced in the Oct. 31 Weekly Buzz e-mail, instead of a more timely security notice e-mail. 

“We waited until staff knew a little bit more about her medical condition, had time to meet with her parents and were reasonably confident about what had happened,” Vice President for Communications Bill Murphy said. 

Hoke is currently in Strong’s Intensive Care Unit, and is in “satisfactory condition” according to the hospital.  

On Tuesday, Nov. 2, Hoke’s family set up a Caring Bridge blog featuring updates on Melissa’s condition. The most recent blog post, from the afternoon of Wednesday, Nov. 3, offers an optimistic view of her condition in the midst of some grim details. 

“Right now the focus is on the work to be done to get her off the respirator,” says the entry. “Believe it or not she is sitting in a chair right now! Heavily sedated but sitting up … This is when we are looking for a good payback on those voice lessons and the impact on her lung capacity! Slow and steady is the game.” 

Updates on Melissa’s condition can be found at www.caringbridge.org/visit/melissahoke, where donations can also be made to the website in Melissa’s name.

Silverstein is a member of the class of 2013.

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