T bus driver charged in drunken driving crash that injures Chinatown man

An MBTA bus driver was ordered held on $500,000 cash bail today after hitting a 68-year-old man in Dorchester last night while driving with a blood alcohol level more than three times the legal limit, prosecutors said.

Kathleen Abban, 39, of Dorchester, was charged with operating under the influence as a second offense, operating under the influence causing serious bodily injury, leaving the scene of an accident causing personal injury, leaving the scene of an accident causing property damage, and negligent operation of a motor vehicle, Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley’s office said in a statement.

Abban was arraigned in Dorchester District Court. If she posts bail, she will have to remain alcohol-free and submit to random testing. A not-guilty plea was entered on her behalf, prosecutors said.

She will return to court Jan. 27.

Abban was driving on Old Colony Avenue near the JFK/UMass Red Line station last night when she struck the Chinatown man, prosecutors said.

A witness at the scene told State Police a black SUV traveling at about 35 miles per hour struck the man, sending him “flying into the air.” The SUV continued driving, slammed into a guardrail, and drove toward the JFK/UMass Station, prosecutors said.

State Police stopped a vehicle matching that description and brought the driver, Abban, back to the scene. Abban reeked of alcohol and told officers she had had “way too many” drinks at a South Boston bar, prosecutors said.

Abban failed multiple sobriety tests. She could not recite the alphabet past the letter “F,” could not stand on one leg, and could not walk in a straight line. She blew a chemical breath test of 0.25. The legal limit is 0.08, prosecutors said.

The victim was transported to Boston Medical Center, where he remains in intensive care, prosecutors said.

Abban is an MBTA bus driver, but was behind the wheel of a private vehicle, not a T bus at the time, according to Kelly Smith, MBTA spokeswoman. Smith said Abban has been a T bus driver since 2003, and is now on unpaid leave pending an investigation by the MBTA.

Abban’s commercial driver’s license – which she needs in order to drive an MBTA bus — was revoked by the Registry of Motor Vehicles because she failed the chemical breath test given to her after the crash. Her standard driver’s license was also suspended for 30 days for the same reason, according to Mike Verseckes, spokesman for MassDOT.

Abban was investigated for drunken driving and her license was suspended in 2007 following a 2006 crash in Braintree. She was later held civilly responsible in the crash, according to RMV records. The drunken driving case was continued without a finding after she attended and completed a drunk driver’s education course, according to RMV records.

Abban was also involved in surchargeable crashes in 2001, 2005 and 2010 in addition to the Braintree crash, according to the RMV records.