Students hurt in bus crash

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 30, 2007

AHOSKIE – For 37 Hertford County students, what started as a mundane morning bus ride to school on Thursday ended as anything but ordinary.

Those 37 students, most heading for classes at Ahoskie Elementary School, were caught-up in a motor vehicle accident that sent all to Roanoke-Chowan Hospital.

North Carolina State Highway Patrol Trooper Jason Jones has charged Kenneth Cain with speeding and a stop light violation after the Kelford man allegedly ran the traffic signal at the intersection of NC 11 and NC 561 and collided with a Hertford County Public Schools bus.

Lisa Newsome, a spokesperson for Roanoke-Chowan Hospital, confirmed that Emergency Room personnel treated the students, as well as the drivers of both vehicles, for injuries. None were deemed serious. Meanwhile, the hospital was crowded with frantic parents attempting to gain information on the injuries suffered by the children.

Newsome said the hospital has plans in place to handle situations such as Thursday’s school bus accident.

“We called a Code D (disaster) shortly after receiving information of the accident,” Newsome said. “That means predetermined staff members rally to the call.”

She added that staff members were not only assigned to assist in the treatment of patients, but handled such duties as greeting parents at the door and directing them to their children, putting out extra chairs to handle the sudden surge of visitors, handing out teddy bears to comfort the injured students and using patient advocates to comfort the parents and to keep them informed of their child’s medical status.

“It was a tremendous team response,” Newsome noted.

Newsome said all accident victims were treated and released by shortly after 12 noon. She confirmed that seven were sent for CT scans or X-rays, but none of those specialized tests noted any serious problems.

“We’re glad there were no serious injuries, not even a broken bone,” Hertford County Schools Superintendent Dr. Michael Basham said.

Dr. Basham was appreciative of the quick response from law enforcement, fire and emergency medical personnel.

“Hertford County is very fortunate to have such professionals working in the capacity of emergency responders,” he stressed. “We are thankful these highly trained and dedicated individuals were there for us in our time of need. They handled the situation very well. We are also grateful for the staff at Roanoke-Chowan Hospital. They were prepared to handle a sudden spike in the number of patients plus treated the parents and family members of our students in a courteous and professional manner.”

Trooper Jones said the accident occurred at approximately 7:40 a.m. There, a 1999 Dodge pick-up truck, operated by Cain, was traveling south on NC 11. Meanwhile, Hertford County Public Schools Bus #142, operated by Frances Everette of Murfreesboro, was traveling east on NC 561.

Jones’ report showed that the bus had the green light and was in the process of crossing the intersection when the crash occurred. The pick-up truck struck the back left side of the bus, near the tire well. The impact caused the bus to fishtail and turn over on its right side. The bus came to rest in the westbound lane of NC 561 on the east side of the traffic signal.

There was substantial damage to both vehicles.

The accident closed a portion of NC 561 for a short period of time as emergency responders worked the scene. In addition to the NC Highway Patrol, other responders included Ahoskie Police, Ahoskie Fire, Hertford County EMS, Ahoskie Rescue, Hertford County Sheriff’s Office and Hertford County Public Schools personnel.