Philadelphia police and SEPTA officials continued their investigation yesterday into the death of a man in a wheelchair who was struck by a Route 47 bus at Eighth Street and Girard Avenue on Friday afternoon.

Milton Boneta, 61, was crossing Eighth Street in his motorized wheelchair when the bus hit him while making a left turn, police said.

In a tragic twist of fate, police said, Boneta lost a leg in September when a SEPTA bus hit him near the same location. "That's why he was in a wheelchair," said Sgt. Lawrence Ritchie of the Accident Investigation Division.

Police were trying to sort out the details of the accident and were interviewing about 35 witnesses, Ritchie said.

The investigation is "far from being over," he said.

No charges have been filed.

The driver, a 16-year veteran whose name authorities have not released, has been taken off his route but remains at work, SEPTA spokeswoman Jerri Williams said.

"This is a terrible event for everyone," Williams said yesterday.

She said that SEPTA had not confirmed reports of the earlier accident and that she had no details about it.

About two dozen passengers were on the bus when Boneta was hit shortly after 4 p.m. No one else was injured.

Witnesses said the wheelchair had gotten lodged under the bus and dragged about 100 feet before the bus veered onto the curbless sidewalk and came to a halt.

Boneta was pronounced dead at the scene.

He lived at nearby Ascension Manor, a senior-citizen apartment complex at Franklin and Poplar Streets, witnesses said.