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Bus driver found at fault in wreck that injured firefighter

Posted December 8, 2009

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— The North Carolina Highway Patrol said Tuesday that a Wake County school bus driver was at fault in a wreck last week that critically injured an off-duty Raleigh firefighter.

Sgt. Jeff Gordon said the school bus, driven by Sheila Wimbush Hall, 52, of Garner, crossed the center line and collided with a westbound station wagon on Ligon Mill Road near Louisburg Road.

Lt. Harry P. "Flip" Kissinger IV - Raleigh firefighter critical after school-bus wreck Bus driver found at fault in wreck that injured firefighter

The bus, carrying students from Southeast Raleigh High School and Centennial Middle School, then continued into the oncoming lane, striking a pickup truck driven by Lt. Harry P. "Flip" Kissinger IV, 35, of Wake Forest.

Neither alcohol nor speed was a factor in the wreck, and charges are still pending, Gordon said.

Authorities said the bus ended up in a ditch off the left side of the road, with the cab of the pickup crushed beneath it. It took rescuers about 45 minutes to extricate Kissinger from the truck.

Kissinger was listed in critical condition Tuesday afternoon at WakeMed's intensive care unit. He is being treated for serious injuries, including head trauma, according to Raleigh Assistant Fire Chief Rusty Styons.

The driver of the station wagon, Angelica Perry, 23, of Raleigh, suffered minor injuries in the wreck. Her car ended up in a driveway on the opposite side of the road.
None of the students were injured, authorities said.

Hall, who was hired by the Wake County Public School System in May 2006, is suspended with pay, pending the outcome of the state Highway Patrol's investigation, a school system spokesman said.

Multiple attempts since Friday to reach Hall have been unsuccessful.

Kissinger is a lieutenant at Fire Station 6, at Oberlin and Fairview roads in Raleigh, and has been with the department for 12 years, Styons said. Recently, he has been working to make captain's rank.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • msultz Dec 9, 2009

    I know Flip (the fireman) personally. I can't tell you what a devastating situation this is. He is one of the kindest and funniest people you could ever hope to know. He is an adoring husband and the most loving father to his two young girls. He was so close to being home that morning. Please- I know many of you have brought up very valid opinions and facts regarding the road and bus drivers- but I was told by another fireman that today is an especially hard day for Flip's family. I ask that you please use the energy that you would have used arguing your thoughts on what contributed to the accident and instead lift up his wife Jill and the rest of Flip's family in prayer. Please for this one day- please take a few seconds and ask God to give them strength and comfort. Please......

  • frosty Dec 9, 2009

    Unless things have changed, school bus drivers are not paid enough and hence good ones are hard to find.

    At least in Wake County with the new school board changing to regional school assignments, Everyone will be exposed to less busing and the dangers there in.

    Maybe in the old days when students drove the buses people around them gave them much more leeway and school leaders did not tolerate misbehaving riders or drivers on the buses.

  • mom to 4 Dec 9, 2009

    I pray that he gets better soon. What disturbs me is this is the 2nd time in a year that a Wake bus driver has been involved in a serious accident. A Cary bus driver killed a man in a similar situation when she crossed the center line coming around a corner. Thank god there weren't any children on the bus at the time. This poor man left a young pregnant wife behind. In that situation, I don't think the bus drivers punishment was enough at all. We are trusting these drivers with our childrens lives each day including the rest of the public out there.

  • Nancy Dec 8, 2009

    Looks like the story was updated and now includes this statement:

    "Neither alcohol nor speed was a factor in the wreck, and charges are still pending, Gordon said."

  • Nancy Dec 8, 2009

    Unfortunately, the requirements for bus stops often take buses on roads that are not safe for the width/length of the buses.

    And this is only the second year that I have seen that the bus routes are following closer to protocol on distance a child walks to the bus stop. There is a longer distance a child can live from a bus stop if they are high school aged vs. elementary school aged.

    They eliminated many bus stops that way in an effort to meet schedules of pick up and to school on time then off to their next school for the next route they cover.

    There are many times where a route cannot be changed due to road conditions, there are students that need to be picked up and no way to avoid certain roads or find a reasonable alternative route from one point to another.

  • FoxtrotUniformCharlieKiloakaCALM Dec 8, 2009

    "and yes I speak from experience,

    You do? Experience of what, driving a school bus? Or waking up needing to run someone over?

    You must be new to this conversation. I spoke about my experience with this bus on the same road, the same location, and pretty much the same time every morning. She always took the turn too fast and would hug the inside corner in an effort to be lazy and not have to slow down as much. That is a choice so yeah I guess you're right, she was going out with a mindset to break the law, I never thought of that.

    Anyways, now that I have blocked your troll attempt, for everyone else wanting to make a difference:

    856-8050 call to report any and all unsafe bus activity. Unlike "normal" car drivers, bus drivers CHOSE their job to drive SAFELY and cautiously. And that number is there to make sure it happens. If they feel their route is unsafe, they should report it to their supervisor.

  • mib1185 Dec 8, 2009

    The school systems used to employee student drivers years ago and you didn't hear of the number of accidents, DWI's, or felonies that you do now. Maybe, we need to revisit the idea that students maybe more responsible than some adults.

  • itsnotmeiswear Dec 8, 2009

    I hope the firefighter recovers and goes on to many more years of dedicated service to our community.

    Mistakes can happen, and there is a reason they call them accidents. That being said, the bus drivers need to obey their rules and slow down when the road is too narrow for their skills. I drove a bus in for 2 1/2 years in high school after having my driver's license for only three months. I was on some of the tightest roads imaginable and never had a wreck of any kind. You've got to consider the cargo and the responsibilty with due care.

    They also need to quit picking up at t-intersections when they can only control traffic in two directions. This is a very dangerous practice for the kids.

  • shell24 Dec 8, 2009

    OMG....My son would have been on this bus had we not switched schools this year...to some of the comments about why was it so far from the school...BUSING which I am totally AGAINST. WE live in Winchester a developement off of Louisburg and Valley Stream Drive....and my son had to be at the bus stop at 6:15am to be transported to Southeast Raleigh...he is now in Wakefield High which is MUCH closer to our home.

  • koolbike1 Dec 8, 2009

    The police will pull her cell phone records. Any evidence of a call or a text at that same moment of the accident will have her behind - behind bars. That is my number one pet peave about bus drivers..., just about everytime I see one up close driving they are using their cell phone.