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When Ebonee Baker was hired as a fare inspector for the Maryland Transit Administration 11 years ago, her friends said, she hoped it would be a stepping stone to becoming a bus driver.

The dream eventually came true.

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"She was very dedicated to her job," said Sahkia Johnson, a longtime friend. "On time, always there, whenever they needed her. She considered the MTA friends she had as family."

Baker, a 33-year-old mother of four children and three stepchildren, was one of six killed in the bus crash Tuesday morning in Southwest Baltimore.

Ebonee Baker, MTA bus driver that died in a crash that involved a school bus and her MTA bus.
Ebonee Baker, MTA bus driver that died in a crash that involved a school bus and her MTA bus. (Courtesy of Shareka Curbeam / HANDOUT)

An MTA spokesman said Baker had worked for the agency since June 2005. She was a full-time operator and "an extra secretary" who worked different assignments from week to week. She was married to another MTA employee.

"She was a genuine overall beautiful person that was 100 percent dedicated to her family and close friends," spokesman Paul Shepard said in a statement. "In addition to working, she was totally committed to all activities that her children were engaged in as well as planned and coordinated events at the division for all occasions."

Grieving family members declined to comment.

Every morning, school bus driver Glenn R. Chappell would stop in the corner store Tony's and Mary's Gethsemane for coffee with cream and sugar.

"He was

Baker's friends described the Rosedale woman as an outgoing, funny person who hosted parties for holidays and Baltimore Ravens games — for which she would dress up in purple.

She was dedicated to her children and stepchildren, they said, shuttling them to soccer, football and cheerleading. She was a coach for the Overlea High School track team.

Her daughter, Taylah Armstrong, attends the Institute of Notre Dame. David C. Ring Jr., the school's president, said the closely knit community was mourning the loss. Counseling was being offered to students and staff.

"We have been doing everything we can to provide support," Ring said.

Baker was a longtime member of Greater Gethsemane Missionary Baptist Church. She would often bring her children with her to church, the Rev. Donald Wright said.

She also loved crabs, Johnson said, and would have brought them to eat on the bus with her if she could have.

If other children on her children's teams needed money to pay their fees, Johnson said, Baker would sometimes pay for them and would also drive them to practice.

"She was a beautiful parent to her children," said Shawntaye Hinkson, another friend. "She was the best mother I ever met."

Shareka Curbeam, Baker's best friend since they went to Lake Clifton High School, said Baker met her husband, Antwan Baker, on the job. The couple married in the summer of 2010, she said.

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Curbeam said she, Baker and other friends would go out for a ladies' night about once a month.

"Any time somebody had a birthday party, she's there; any time there was an event she was there," Curbeam said.

Cherry Yarborough took the bus everywhere she went in the city that she loved.

She also liked to dance and listen to Baltimore club music, and would go to Ravens tailgate parties.

"She was always cracking jokes and laughing," Johnson said. "She was never down. If you were having a rough day she would come and make you laugh."

But Baker spent most of her time working or with her children, her friends said.

Charvon Davis met Baker 11 years ago when they were hired by the MTA. Baker had picked up a part-time job at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport to get her CDL license so that she could start driving busses, Davis said.

Davis said Baker was "sweet," and they clicked immediately.

"She was just someone who you could call if you were having a hard time," Davis said. "She would listen and give you advice. She was just a great person."

cwells@baltsun.com

An earlier version misstated information about Ebonee Baker's shift. The Sun regrets the error.

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