Local News

School bus, garbage truck caught in five-vehicle wreck

Witnesses said that a garbage truck driver swerved to avoid a grass mower in the median of U.S. Highway 70 in Selma Monday afternoon. The ensuing wreck involved a school bus, two cars and a tractor.

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SELMA, N.C. — 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.