Police received a 911 call about a stolen delivery truck at 5:30 a.m. Moments later the truck was heading south on Seventh Avenue when it hit a city bus going east on 14th Street, police said.
The collision sent both vehicles crashing into scaffolding surrounding a 12-story commercial building and killed 49-year-old bus driver William Pena, of Hillside, N.J., police said.
Police said one bus passenger and two people on the street were hurt in the crash and were hospitalized. One of those was a coffee cart vendor, Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokesman Kevin Ortiz said.
Charges were pending against the 22-year-old driver of the truck, who also was injured and was being treated at Bellevue Hospital, police said. Before colliding with the bus, the truck hit a person on a scooter, who also was injured and taken to a hospital, police said.
Pena was the first city bus driver killed in a collision in more than 14 years, the MTA said.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Pena's family, and we are working closely with law enforcement to ensure the perpetrator of this crime is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," authority Chairman Thomas Prendergast said.
Craig Ydolly was on the block facing the other way when he heard the crash. He said it sounded like the scraping sound a snowplow makes. He turned around and saw the scaffolding falling on the truck and the bus and a man lying injured on the ground.
The bus was leaking gas, said Ydolly, who hands out free newspapers on that corner.
Jose Cherrez, the superintendent of a building one block from the scene, said the crash woke him up.
"It sounded like an explosion. I heard the ambulances about 10 minutes later," he said.
Seventh Avenue between 13th and 15th streets and West 14th Street between Sixth and Eighth avenues were closed following the crash, and bus service was being rerouted. Subway service was not affected.