Federal Officer's friendly character gained title of 'mayor' - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather

Federal Officer's friendly character gained title of 'mayor'

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By: Alexandra Cowley 

The driver of the RIPTA bus that hit and critically injured a federal security officer has been placed on administrative leave. The CEO of RIPTA says the 64–year–old driver Katherine Gormley is extremely distraught and seeking therapy. Gormley has been with RIPTA for 27 years, a driver for 15 of those years. Officials say there is no evidence that Gormley was on her phone or distracted.

She was at the end of her shift and heading back to headquarters when 69–year–old Frank McKnight was struck.

RIPTA CEO Ray Studly said at a press conference today, "it was a horrible day for RIPTA yesterday and again my thoughts and prayers are with Mr. McKnight and his family."
The North Kingstown Police department where McKnight worked for more than 25 years, before retiring as a lieutenant, is hoping their mentor will pull through.

"We're still asking the questions, I can't, I'm trying to figure it out myself," said Captain Steven St. Onge.

The flag at the North Kingstown police department is at half staff, the mood inside is somber. Everyone has learned one of their own is fighting for his life after a tragic accident.

"He is a great guy and we don't have any answers yet," shrugged St. Onge. 

St. Onge got the news Wednesday afternoon. His former lieutenant, 69–year–old Frank McKnight, had been struck by a RIPTA bus.

"My phone just blew up because he's well known in the community of course," said St. Onge. 

McKnight was working at his post as a federal security officer, something he's done for the last 13 years. Police say the RIPTA bus was taking a left turn onto Washington Street, when it struck McKnight, who was crossing the street. He remains in critical condition.

"Frank's a friend, Frank's a dear friend, when you work with someone of that caliber for so long you develop a bond," said St. Onge.

Mayor Angel Taveras says part of his plan of revamping Kennedy Plaza is to make it safer for pedestrians.

"We may not have the same concentration of buses there, so they'll be less vehicles, and make it more pedestrian friendly in that way," said Mayor Taveras. 

The investigation is still ongoing, but police say speed was not a factor. The driver does not appear to have been on her phone.

McKnight is known by his friends and co-workers for his friendly personality.

"They knew him as mayor of Wickford," laughed St. Onge. 

(C) WLNE-TV 2014 

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