Milton Boneta cheated death seven months ago when he was struck by a SEPTA bus in his wheelchair at 8th Street and Girard Avenue.
Fate revisited him in cruel fashion at the same intersection earlier today. This time, he was not as lucky.
Police said the Route 47 bus crushed Boneta, 61, as he crossed 8th Street in his motorized wheelchair at about 4:15 p.m.
Based on the reactions of witnesses and the grisly scene, there was no chance he could have survived this accident.
Zakia Gillyard, 26, was standing in front of the Citgo gas station on North 8th Street seconds before Boneta was killed.
“He was in the street, about two feet from the corner. We saw the bus, and we told him to get out the street,” she said.
“I guess he thought he had enough time. The bus turned real fast and hit him. His chair was caught on the front of the bus, but then he went under,” Gillyard said, while firefighters hosed off the blood-stained pavement.
Gina Doherty, 27, who was waiting for a trolly on Girard Avenue, said she started screaming when the accident unfolded like a scene from a horror film.
“I saw the man’s body come out from under the back of the bus. I called 9-1-1 and ran over there,” Doherty said.
“The operator told me to check for a pulse or to see if he was breathing,” she said, adding that his body clearly was too badly mangled for any lifesaving efforts. Several Citgo employees came out and placed a blue blanket over Boneta’s remains until police arrived.
Both women claimed the bus driver was speeding in attempt to beat the traffic light and motorists traveling east on Girard.
SEPTA spokeswoman Jerri Williams said the bus had just turned left onto 8th Street from the westbound lane of Girard Avenue when Boneta was hit.
The bus finally skidded to a stop in front of a building about a half-block down 8th Street.
Detectives from the police Accident Investigation Division said the driver told them he didn’t see Boneta.
A source confirmed that Boneta was struck at the same intersection by the Route 47 bus on Sept. 10. Boneta suffered a fractured foot in that accident, according to reports at the time.
As the evening wore on, news of Boneta’s horrific death spread through the neighborhood.
Patricia McBride, a friend, arrived at the intersection in disbelief. “Not Milton!” she cried, as Doherty and other witnesses tried to explain the tragedy.
“He was up and down here [Girard Avenue] all the time. Nobody bothered him," she said. “It’s the second time a bus hit him! He was just trying to live his life like everybody else.”
McBride said Boneta lived in an apartment on Franklin Street near Poplar. A stroke confined him to a wheelchair years ago.
“He had a daughter and a granddaughter. He was a nice man,” she said. “How could this happen?”