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Five students remain hospitalized after school bus wreck

Posted December 20, 2010
Updated December 21, 2010

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— More than 30 students were injured Monday morning in a chain-reaction wreck in Cary involving three school-activity buses from Asheboro, police said.

The buses, which were carrying about 113 eighth-grade students from North Asheboro Middle School to the North Carolina Museums of History and Natural Sciences, wrecked on U.S. Highway 64 and Edinburgh Drive around 10:30 a.m.

Investigators said the driver of the third bus said he got distracted after hearing a buzzing sound on the bus. As he was slowing at a stop light, he looked down, and when he looked up, he had hit the second bus, which then hit the first bus.

Jeff Hammerstein with Wake EMS described how emergency crews responded to the crash and handled dozens of injuries at once. Three ambulances and two district chiefs were originally dispatched to the scene, he said.

Students injured in bus wreck in Cary Students injured in bus wreck in Cary

"Once those early arriving students get there and can see first-hand what we're actually dealing with, they may up that count or may turn some of them around, depending on what's needed," Hammerstein said.

In this case, more than a dozen ambulances were sent from all over the county, including EVAC-1, a multiple patient transport unit.

"That ended up transporting 20 of our patients to one of the hospitals, which would have been anywhere between 10 and 20 additional ambulances," Hammerstein said.

One adult and 35 students reported minor injuries – neck and back pain, cuts and aches – and were taken to area hospitals, Cary police said.

One student was taken to a local trauma center as a precaution.

Five students were still being treated at Western Wake Medical Center in Cary Monday night. All other students have been released. 

“It's probably the scariest thing I've ever been in,” student Tyler Nash, who was on the second bus, said.

Nash said some of his classmates were thrown in the air and over the seats during the crash. He said he was not seriously hurt.

“I was just thrown forward into the seat,” he said. “That's when my upper lip got tore up.”

Calief Rawls, also on the bus, called his mother from the bus to tell her what happened.

“No mother wants to get that phone call that her child's been in an accident,” Vera Rawls said.

She and her husband rushed from the Asheboro area to meet their son at the hospital.

“After I got here, I just thanked God that it wasn't much worse,” she said.

A fourth bus on the trip was not involved in the wreck, she said.

“You never like an injury, never like an accident, but to hear it’s only minor injuries – it’s sure a relief,” said Brad Rice, director of support services for Asheboro Schools. “We take the safety of our students seriously.”

Rice said the bus driver who caused the wreck will undergo an alcohol and drug test as part of the school system’s investigation into the crash. Authorities don't expect to file charges.

The bus will also be checked out to see if any equipment on the bus malfunctioned.

Buses, he said, have buzzer systems to alert for malfunctioning equipment.

The uninjured students were taken to a nearby hotel until they could be picked up by their parents or another activity bus.

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  • Alexia.1 Dec 21, 2010

    Sherlock, perhaps because it was an accident. Shall we criminalize everyone, huh?

  • Sherlock Dec 21, 2010

    Why is there no charges?

  • MommyBear Dec 20, 2010

    Well said smilesalotgrl. No person should be demeaned because of their job. At least the bus drivers have a job & obviously a drivers license which many around here have lost due to dui's or other reasons. What is wrong with driving a bus? It takes a lot of patience & nerves of steel to drive a bus load of kids. I took substitute teachers training to be a sub but found out I'd be required (forced) to drive a school bus (the rule at that time). I never became a sub for that reason.
    There are too many snobs out there with degrees who think they are better than the waiter/waitress who serves their meal or the cook or dishwasher in the kitchen preparing their food or cleaning up their messes. Where would you be without them & others like them? A job is a job & some folks work 2 of them just to provide for their families instead of on welfare. At least its honest work. I've held many jobs from waitress, Realtor, machinst to Office Mgr.so know the truth. Remember: Walk a mile in my shoes.

  • 3forme Dec 20, 2010

    it's a big responsiblity..why don't some of you "haters" try it sometime..

  • 3forme Dec 20, 2010

    i drive a bus for a private school and it's mandatory for our kids to wear seat belts.. also don't be so quick to criticize the bus drivers..i drove a truck for 22 years and a bus is a lot tougher..kids are going to misbehave and scream and yell and there"s not much the driver can do while driving.. think about what it's like in your suv and multiply that by 20...really hard to focus no matter how hard you try..your car stops a lot quicker than a bus that size..

  • MommyBear Dec 20, 2010

    I will say it again. Another excellent reason for all school buses to have seatbelts no matter the cost. I'm sure many parents would agree and with 2 of my own kids on a bus, I would personally cover the cost of seatbelts for 2 seats. I've never understood why seatbelts aren't required on the buses since they are required on every other vehicle that travels the road & we are fined if we don't have them. Is the safety of our children any less important than our own? It should be a law for the buses as well & the cost covered by each individual state or maybe they could be paid for from the ticket fund for not wearing a seatbelt. Sorry, WRAL won't let me call those tickets what we actually call them in NC as the word 'could potentially be considered inappropriate to some of our visitors'. From some of the comments I've read on WRAL, I think it could be very appropriate for some of their visitors.
    I'm just glad the kids on these 3 particular buses weren't more seriously inujured.

  • RB-1 Dec 20, 2010

    I wonder if any of the bus drivers were talking on cell phones.

    Also, these injuries are another reason why seat belts are needed on school buses. That they aren't is insane.

  • RB-1 Dec 20, 2010

    "As soon as my lovely daughter called me on her I-Phone, I had her on three way with our lawyer, who advised us to have her checked out....on the counties dime of course. She is feeling very dizzy and traumatized by the entire disaster and has already told me that she is having nightmares about the experience that will most likely scar her for life! Just wait until we get in front of a jury of our peers."

    Oh great...one of those.

    I think they are as bad a blight on society as welfare queens and kids are.

  • oleguy Dec 20, 2010

    I aint no rocket scientest, But if the driver was in fact slowing for the light I think the damages would be less,, look at the front of the bus, those busses are tanks,

  • theartistformerlyknownasspeedy Dec 20, 2010

    "Nightmares from the crash" and she hasn't even been to bed one time since the crash."

    Well, she IS an 8th grader and she IS at a hotel. And you know how those 8th grade girls with iPhones are......

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