Family, friends defend bus driver charged in Brooklyn fatal hit-and-run

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NEW YORK -- Members of Paul Roper's family could barely find the words.

They are in disbelief over accusations that the man who is a father and grandfather and a 15-year veteran of the MTA could possibly be accused of running over a 75-year-old woman and then leaving the scene.

Wednesday, the Brooklyn District Attorney's office formally charged him with leaving the scene of an accident, failure to yield to a pedestrian and failure to exercise due care.

"I don't believe that. Sometimes they have blind sides. But I don't believe that he meant to do it," said Roper's sister Deione Geray.

Police and prosecutors, however, see it differently. They say Roper crushed Carol Bell with the MTA bus he was driving. Bell, a mother and grandmother herself who suffered from heroin addiction and was homeless was killed on the spot.

While witnesses say Roper did appear to slow down, he just kept right on going. His family doesn't believe those accounts all add up.

"If he knew it was a person, I know he would have stopped," said Geray.

Today, as Roper awaited his arraignment the Amalgamated Transit Union blamed not Roper for Bell's death but instead the design of the MTA bus he was driving.

In a statement saying the bus' huge left hand side mirrors create major blind spots and are urging the MTA to fix it.

Countering that point, investigators have already said surveillance video clearly shows Bell with her walker in Roper's line of sight several seconds before he even hit her.

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