It's not uncommon for a person to pass away on a SEPTA bus, according to the transit authority. But the way the death of a man was handled early Sunday morning was just wrong, says the woman driving the bus involved and her union.
Nakita Manfra was driving the Market-Frankford Nite Owl line when she noticed an unresponsive man onboard her bus after stopping at the 69th Street Terminal in Upper Darby, Pa. just after 4 a.m. She checked on the man, who was still breathing at the time but appeared to have urinated on himself, and then she called her supervisor for help.
That supervisor told Manfra to continue along her route to the Frankford Transportation Center where help would be, SEPTA confirmed.
Unfortunately, she wasn't due to arrive at the station for almost an hour. During the 40 minutes that passed, the man -- identified as Leonard Sedden -- died, officials said.
"She followed the protocol," SEPTA spokesperson Richard Maloney said Tuesday.
But it’s that protocol that upsets Manfra. "It just boggles me that I was riding around and he was deceased and other passengers were getting on," Manfra told Metro.
In her first call, SEPTA dispatch told Manfra to continue along her route and that a supervisor would board at some place along the 13 mile route to help with the situation.
"I don't want to delay service. The supervisor will assist you on the line so we don't delay service for the passengers," a dispatcher could be heard saying in recordings released Tuesday.
But that supervisor didn't board for almost 30 minutes when the bus arrived at 15th and Market Streets in Center City, SEPTA confirmed. At that time, the 68-year-old man was still breathing, they said.
More than 30 minutes later, SEPTA Police boarded the bus and found that the man had died. Dispatchers sounded suprised to hear about the death when Manfra reported the news.
MANFRA: SEPTA Police here, he believes the passenger is dead.
DISPATCH: Did you say dead?
MANFRA: Uh, yes. He said he believes the passenger is dead.
"Once she stated that the individual was unresponsive, they would have to be brain dead not to consider that not to be a possible medical emergency," he said.
SEPTA says if the situation was as dire as Manfra and the union claim, they weren't able to tell in the conversations.
"If she would have requested an ambulance, if she would have requested police, they would have been immediately dispatched," Maloney said.
The Philadelphia Medical Examiner found Sedden died of heart failure and drug intoxication. Sources say police found a crack pipe on his person.
The TWU plans to file a grievance on Manfra's behalf about the incident as SEPTA plans to review their policies.