Bus driver charged

Published 11:31 am Monday, September 12, 2016

MERRY HILL – A Bertie County school bus driver has been charged after a Thursday morning crash sent seven students to the hospital.

According to Trooper Jeremy Reid with the North Carolina Highway Patrol, the accident involved a bus from Bertie High School and happened around 7:30 a.m. on Ashland Church Road, near the Merry Hill-Midway community.

Trooper Reid said the bus was making a left turn onto NC Hwy 45 at the intersection in front of Ashland Baptist Church, headed south. Somehow, the bus kept turning left before it went off the road to the left and into a tree line where it struck a tree.

The seven high-school aged students were taken to a local area hospital as a precaution, according to the Highway Patrol. The school system said the students had minor bumps and other minor injuries and they were all treated and released.

The driver, Trim Smallwood, 41, of Windsor, was charged with driving left of center. Smallwood has been a driver with Bertie County Schools since 2008.

According to Ella Fields-Bunch, Human Resources Director for Bertie County Schools, Smallwood will face no punishment from the school system until the judicial system has run its course.

“When a driver receives a citation they are not allowed to drive again until the matter is resolved in the court system,” Fields-Bunch said. “If the driver is convicted they would lose their ‘pocket card’ (a special licensure), and would no longer be eligible to operate a school bus in North Carolina.”