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Parents, officials to meet about crash

September 30, 2000

Parents, officials to meet about crash



By ANDREW SCHOTZ / Staff Writer


Washington County school district officials plan to meet this week with parents concerned about last Monday's school bus crash in Smithsburg.

Bus 38C slid across the road at a curve on Md. 77 and collided with a dump truck, Maryland State Police said.

Forty-six middle- and high-school students were on their way to school. Thirty-nine students were taken to local hospitals, but no one was hurt, police said.

Kathrine Brown, whose 12-year-daughter, Christina, was on the bus, was upset that she didn't know about the accident until a friend told her almost three hours later. By then, her daughter was at Washington County Hospital, she said.

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Chris Carter, the Board of Education's director of transportation, said he has fielded several calls from the public about the accident.

"I am trying to reassure people that we have someone doing the best job she can and who is meeting the ... codes," he said.

When the date and time of this week's meeting are set, Carter said, the families of children who take that route will be notified.

The district has monitored the route and the bus more closely since the crash, which is standard protocol, Carter said.

He said the bus driver, Christine Ann Wachsmuth, 36, of Smithsburg, has driven for the district for about two years. As a driver, she is in compliance with all state and federal transportation requirements and state education codes, he said.

State police did not charge Wachsmuth.

According to Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration records, Wachsmuth has no points on her driver's license in the last three years, the only time period that is public information.

The Code of Maryland Regulations require school districts to decertify drivers if they get three points on their license, Carter said.

Wachsmuth was driving for a private carrier under contract with the school district.

For at least eight months, while the contracted bus is being repaired or replaced, Wachsmuth will use a county school bus, Carter said.

Carter said the district's 84 buses are equipped with tachographs, which keep computerized data about speeds and times, but the 64 contracted buses don't have them.

Typically, the tachograph data is reviewed monthly to verify drivers' schedules or if there's a complaint, he said. After incidents or accidents, such as in this case, the information is looked at daily.

A transportation department employee is periodically driving behind Wachsmuth's bus as another check, Carter said.

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