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SUV Driver Runs Stop Sign, Hits Lenoir School Bus

Posted November 26, 2007

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— A 10-year-old died Monday after the sport utility vehicle in which he was riding collided with a school bus at Wheat Swamp and Gregory roads in Lenoir County.

Troopers with the state Highway Patrol said the driver of the SUV, Thomas Henry Suggs, ran a stop sign and struck the bus.

“Heavy fog at the time of the crash (was a factor), the (SUV) failed to stop at the stop sign,” said M.S. Turner with the state Highway Patrol.

The impact of the crash overturned the bus used to transport special needs students.

Officials said two students from La Grange Elementary School, the bus driver and a safety assistant were taken to Lenoir Memorial Hospital. They were treated and released by Monday afternoon.

“We as a school district are grieving at this time and we ask from the community, for their hearts and prayers for all involved,” Lidia Guzman, spokesperson for Lenoir County schools, said.

Thomas Henry Suggs was pinned inside his vehicle, troopers said. He was taken to Pitt Memorial Hospital, where he was listed in critical condition. His son, Thomas Henry Suggs Jr., died in the accident. He was a student at Banks Elementary School.

The school bus involved was relatively new. It had higher seats and seat belts, which school officials said may have helped prevent more serious injuries.

“It probably did in this case. It's probably going to be a very positive thing in the future once we replace the older buses with the new ones," Turner said.

The Highway Patrol said it was unclear whether the boy and his father in the SUV were wearing seat belts.

Charges are pending in the wreck, troopers said.