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School bus, SUV carrying students collide in Knightdale

Posted May 27, 2015

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— A school bus and an SUV carrying students collided Wednesday morning in Knightdale.

A Ford Expedition that is a contract school transportation vehicle ran off the right side of Smithfield Road near Meadow Run shortly before 9 a.m. and over-corrected, according to the North Carolina State Highway Patrol. The Expedition then crossed the center line, colliding with a school bus, and the impact knocked the SUV on its side.

The SUV driver, Benita Knight, 21, of Raleigh, and three children in the vehicle were taken to WakeMed as a precaution, troopers said. School bus driver Lee Verne Murphy, 51, of Knightdale, also was taken to WakeMed, while school bus passenger Hattie Holder, 76, of Zebulon, was taken to Rex Hospital.

All of the injuries were minor, troopers said.

"It absolutely could have been worse," Sgt. Joseph Sharlow said. "Anytime you have something with children involved, obviously, it's more tragic, and you hate to see innocent lives be hurt for no reason at all."

Zell Lucas, owner of Lucas Transportation, the company that owns the SUV, said he rushed to the scene as soon as he learned of the crash.

"My main concern was checking all the kids," he said. "I took the little boy, the youngest one, out and held him in my arms. He recognized me right there. He was OK."

The school bus had damage to its front end and was smoking.

"I heard like a boom, like a small car accident," said John Watson, who lives nearby. "I didn't think it was something real bad, but it was kind of bad when I walked up here."

Knight was charged with failing to maintain lane control and driving left of center, troopers said.

16 Comments

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  • Kenneth Knoeber May 28, 2015
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    I personally witness these 'private' SUV busses driving aggressively on a daily basis. They are not school busses and in at least two instances I was loudly chastised for not treating the drivers professionally. Secondly, if true school busses are governed to 45 mph, keep them off highways and interstates. After all, mopeds aren't allowed due to a similar top speed. School busses cause havoc in construction zones. Consider we give them almost a billion, yes billion dollars yearly buy extra diesel and have them follow surface streets.

  • Barbara Sossomon May 27, 2015
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    But, the school district use to have short buses, for just that use. Did they get rid of them?

    I asked the question about who paid, because someone earlier said that WCPSS does NOT pay them and I was curious.

    I have a degree in Education. When I was in college, I was told to NEVER turn my back on my students. WHO in their right mind would turn their backs on that many kids these days? My hat is off to them. BUT, I also have to say that when we lived in SD, you had to live more than 2.5 miles from the school before they would CONSIDER allowing you to ride the bus. Can you imagine walking in all that snow? Well, kids there did.

  • Ann Ethridge May 27, 2015
    user avatar

    Having dealt with student behavior on school transportation, hats off to ANY one who wants to drive kids to school. You put 50-70 kids behind you on a route that can begin as early a 5am and tell me how you would feel? Or, have 6 kids on a cab that can start a fire with a lighter they brought from home or open the door and jump out at the stoplight or have your wallet stolen by a passenger (child)? How about a kid who gets in the car mad and reaches over to grab the wheel while the car is in motion? Did you know that special trans or "cabs" go "door to door" to pick up kids due to disabilities (and these don't have to be physical disabilities) so be careful about judging these people, you probably wouldn't do their job if they paid you the money they are paid! Learn to appreciate before you criticize. On another note I hope Benita is ok - she has a child of her own as well!

  • Ann Ethridge May 27, 2015
    user avatar

    Thank you Sarah for enlightening those who seek to be understood vs. understanding. If the student has an IEP, which is a federal document, stating that child has issues or a disability that would adversely affect the safety of the bus or have a medical need that would necessitate them having special transportation. Of course tax payers pay for it, we pay for all services rendered to the public for the most part. It is extremely expensive to have students on "cabs" as they are called. There are times when buses are used, but when you are talking about running a bus for 5 -10 students when the capacity is at least 50, are you being cost effective? And the times when the count puts a child with these special needs on a bus, they usually put a monitor on there as well - another adult with another set of eyes (hence the reason a 76 year old could have been on the school bus).

  • Barbara Sossomon May 27, 2015
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    Thank you for that insight. I would like to ask a question and of course, you do NOT have to answer. Does WCPSS pay for those rides, or are you having to pay out of pocket?

    I am sorry that they are not very kind to your son. That is uncalled for. I hope that your son was not injured during the accident.

  • Mikki Barnes May 27, 2015
    user avatar

    Lucas transports both of my sons who are autistic back and forth to school daily. My oldest son was in a Lucas Expedition last year that was in an accident and totaled on the way to Wendell Middle. NOT ONLY did Mr. Lucas not come to the scene - Lucas never contacted me one time about the accident. The highway patrol let me know about the accident and to come pick up my son. They left my son sitting in the totaled car until we got there.

    Lucas drivers are not trained to deal with special needs children and are rude and complain all the time about the time it takes for my son to get in the car. The fit as many children in the car to transport as many kids with the least amount of vehicles. Lucas cares about money and that is it. WCPSS has pulled most handicap buses off the routes so parents with special needs children are left with very little options. :(

  • Sara Hauser May 27, 2015
    user avatar

    1.Students' eligibility for transportation services is determined in accordance with Board Policy 7105.
    2.At the sole discretion of the Superintendent or Superintendent's designee, students may be deemed eligible to receive special transportation services from a public or private carrier or individual under contract with the school system if one of the following circumstances is present: a.The student has been identified as a student with a disability under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (Section 504) and transportation is listed as a related service in the student's individualized education plan (IEP) or as an accommodation in the student's 504 plan. i.
    Transportation may be designated as a related service in a student's IEP only by the IEP team in accordance with Board Policy 6220 and applicable law. A representative of the Transportation Department may be invited to IEP meetings at which the IEP team will be asked to c

  • Aanritsen Deur May 27, 2015
    user avatar

    Glad no one was hurt any worse. I do have a question though. Why did the school bus have a passenger other than students?
    Our mother use to ride the school bus with us so she could work in the school cafeteria. Then they told her she couldn't because it was against the country's insurance, and she had to quit the job.

  • Barbara Sossomon May 27, 2015
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    So who is paying for them?

    and to be honest, my child/grandchild would not ride in these, considering the way I have seen them drive and the lack of concern for traffic laws. If your child/grandchild does, you might want to follow them a few times. A real eye opener.

  • La'King Henry May 27, 2015
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    Your taxes don't go to private carriers

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