Parents sue over W.Va. bus wreck

July 12, 1999|By BRYN MICKLE

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The parents of a Hedgesville Middle Scool student injured in an April accident between two county school buses filed suit against the Berkeley County Board of Education, claiming a driver was negligent and another employee misled them.

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Charles Timbrook III, 13, received a neck injury in the April 12 crash in which the bus in which he was riding was struck from behind by another school bus on Riner Shop Road near Hedgesville, according to a suit filed in Berkeley County Circuit Court.

The suit says he did not return to school during the year.

In the suit, Timbrook's parents, Charles Timbrook II and Patricia Timbrook, allege the driver of the bus that ran into their son's was negligent and that county School Transportation Director Larry Carte misled them about the severity of Timbrook's injuries.

Carte and School Board member Bill Sonnick would not comment on the suit.


At least 29 students from Hedgesville Middle and High schools and both bus drivers were injured when a bus driven by Christa Stewart hit the back of a bus that had stopped at a railroad underpass on Riner Shop Road about a half-mile south of Grade Road.

Stewart's bus was carrying 55 students, and 41 children were on the other bus, driven by George Miller, 43, of Hedgesville.

Stewart was ticketed by police for failure to maintain control of her bus. On May 24, the Berkeley County Board of Education upheld Superintendent Manny Arvon's decision not to renew her contract and to suspend her without pay for the rest of the school year.

Stewart had said the accident was caused by brake failure, but the district said an inspection of the bus revealed no mechanical problems.

Timbrook's parents claim their son was asleep when his bus was rear-ended, according to court records.

The suit alleges Stewart was driving too fast for conditions and failed to maintain a proper distance between the two buses.

Hedgesville residents had previously complained about some buses traveling too fast on local roads, the suit says.

It alleges, also, that in the "immediate aftermath" of the accident school personnel "misled and misinformed parents" of the condition of injured students.

Timbrook's parents also claim the district's insurance carrier has refused to pay some of the boy's medical bills, according to court records.

Neither the Timbrooks nor their attorney, Lawrence M. Schultz of Martinsburg, could be reached for comment.

The Timbrook's suit is the only legal action filed against the district related to the Hedgesville bus accident, Sonnick said.

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