Students hurry to the rescue at crash scene

October 25, 1997


Staff Writer, Waynesboro

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Several students whose school bus was the first vehicle to come upon the scene of a two-car accident Thursday afternoon were credited for quickly dousing a fire on one of the cars and pulling one of the drivers to safety.

Both drivers survived and are being treated in hospitals.

Bus driver Gwen Gates said she came upon the wreck minutes after it happened as she drove over the crest of a hill on Altenwald Road near Quincy Pa.

"The cars hit head-on. There were flames coming out from under one of them," Gates said. "Both drivers were still in the cars. I backed the bus away and two students in the back went out the rear emergency door, grabbed the fire extinguisher from the bus and ran over to the car to put the fire out.


"I couldn't have stopped them If I wanted to," she said.

One of the students was John Blakely, 15, of Waynesboro.

"I wasn't scared at first. I didn't think about the danger," he said. "There was gas coming from the motor and it was burning."

Cory Imes, 19, helped Blakely put out the fire while other students tried to get the driver out. Imes identified him as Darren Peck, 21, of Mont Alto, Pa.

"We couldn't get the door open. The whole front end of his car was smashed in," Imes said.

Peck was driving a Ford Tempo, he said.

Meanwhile two other students managed to pull the driver of the other car out of her vehicle, Gates said.

"They had to rip the door of her car off with a crowbar they got out of the bus," Imes said.

The woman was driving a Chevrolet Celebrity, Imes said.

State police had not issued a report on the accident or the names of the victims as of press time Friday night.

Peck was listed in stable condition at Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, Pa.

"The woman kept saying, `I've got to get out of here.' The boys picked her up real careful and put her on the grass berm. She had a compound fracture of her right leg. You could see the bone sticking out of her pants. Her ankle was turned around. It was not a pretty sight, but the students did what they had to," Gates said.

"Two girls stayed with her and tried to keep her calm. I don't know what would have happened if they had not done what they did," she said.

"They all just stayed calm through the whole thing," she said.

Gates said she used the cellular phone on the bus to call 911.

The students all attend the Franklin County Career and Technology Center in Chambersburg. They were on their way home from school. Altenwald Road is about five miles north of Waynesboro of Pa. 316, Gates said.

A bus driver for 23 years, Gates said she has been driving that route since 1985.

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