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School bus, garbage truck caught in five-vehicle wreck

Posted October 20, 2008
Updated October 21, 2008

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— A five-vehicle wreck involving a school bus and garbage truck injured seven people and shut down U.S. Highway 70 in Selma for about two hours Monday.

Witnesses said the driver of a Waste Management truck swerved to avoid a grass mower in the median on U.S. 70 at Buffalo Road around 4:20 p.m. The truck hit two cars, then struck the rear end of the school bus, witnesses said. A tractor was also involved in the wreck, state troopers said.

The rear end of one car was caved in, and another car ended up in the median.

The truck driver, Donnie Ray Powell Jr., was pinned in his vehicle, and rescuers had to cut through the vehicle to extricate him, Johnston County sheriff's deputies said. A medical helicopter flew Powell to WakeMed in Raleigh.

He underwent surgery Monday night, troopers said, and was listed in serious condition Tuesday afternoon.

Ambulances took five children on the school bus to local hospitals to be checked out for minor injuries, said Terri Sessoms, public-information officer for Johnston County schools. Crews had to cut open the back door of the bus to get the students out.

One car driver was also taken to the hospital, but the person's condition was not known.

Ten students from Wilson Mill Elementary School were on the bus, Sessoms said. The uninjured children were sent home on another bus, and school officials notified all parents.

Authorities set up a detour while both sides of U.S. 70 were closed. The road reopened about 6:30 p.m.

Troopers would not speculate on what caused the wreck but said that neither speed nor alcohol appeared to be a factor. Seat belts were used in each vehicle, they said.

Troopers said they likely would file charges in the wreck after meeting with the Johnston County District Attorney on Tuesday. They did not say whom they expected to charge.

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  • RonnieR Oct 21, 2008

    There is a seatbelt for the driver in a school bus.

  • dxedame Oct 21, 2008

    "Those private contract grass cutters out our way hardly ever look before pulling out in the roadway..."
    This is also true in our area. Most of us have learned to look out for them simply because they appear to be in such a hurry to get the work done; they seldom,(if ever)check or even bother with local traffic.It is a wonder this type of wreck doesn't occur a lot more often that it does. Let's see, a tractor vs. a trash truck ~ with a few cars and a school bus added in for good measure~(at a busy time of day), I can easily see the potential for an accident.

  • news4u Oct 21, 2008

    The school bus in the crash is equipped for EC - exceptional children - no seats in the rear to accommodate wheelchairs.

    It could have been a whole lot worse.

    Thankfully , it wasn't.

  • ccacrabbitdog Oct 21, 2008

    to the 2 that thinks its the grass cutters fault...well its not...hope u r not with waste mangement...cause the price is going up to pay 4 this 1......

  • just my2cents Oct 21, 2008

    How can seat belts be used in each vehicle, one was a school bus wheer there are NO seat belts....

  • Politically Honest NOT PC Oct 21, 2008

    The story said they took the injured children to "local hospitals". For the last 50 years there has only been one (barely) hospital in Johnston County and it is in Smithfield.

  • gotitmadecij Oct 20, 2008

    Those private contract grass cutters out our way hardly ever look before pulling out in the roadway...or either they look and pull out anyway

  • FromClayton Oct 20, 2008

    it is the grass cutter's fault. could have happned to any one of us, most of us just dont drive a garbage truck.

  • Godschild43 Oct 20, 2008

    Prayers going out for all involved.

  • DurhamHatesLIEfong Oct 20, 2008

    wow, time for the waste management guy to call GEICO and upgrade from a $100,000 limit to a $1,000,000 limit.

    Ouch! Gonna put some one in DEBT for a loooong time.