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Man Hijacks Philadelphia Bus

April 2, 1998

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ A man who refused to pay his fare ordered a driver off a city bus, drove off and rammed the vehicle into an elevated-train support pillar Wednesday, breaking his leg, police said.

Michael Smith, 45, got on the bus shortly before 5 a.m., said Detective Sgt. Christine Coulter. The only other passengers had gotten off at the stop where Smith boarded the bus.

``That accident almost split him in half,″ said Kim Trachtenberg, who was about a half-block away when the bus hit the column.

Smith, who was unarmed, forced the driver off when she refused to drive without his fare, police said. He drove the bus into a pillar a few blocks away, Coulter said.

The pillar sliced through the front quarter of the bus, crushing the right side and leaving the left side, where the man had been sitting, mangled.

Fire rescue crews had to extricate Smith from the wreckage. He was arrested and taken to a hospital, where he was listed in good condition.

Smith, charged with assault, reckless endangerment, robbery and theft, did not offer any explanation for his actions, police said.