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School bus driver no longer on the job

October 14, 2000

School bus driver no longer on the job



By JULIE E. GREENE / Staff Writer


The woman who was driving a school bus last month when it collided with a dump truck near Smithsburg is out of a job after the contractor who owned the bus decided to get out of the business, Washington County Board of Education officials said Friday.

Ruth Bumbaugh employed driver Christine Ann Wachsmuth, who was driving the bus carrying 47 students the morning of Sept. 25 on Md. 77 when it began to slide down the steep, rain-slicked road.

Wachsmuth wasn't able to steer out of the skid and the bus crossed the center line at a sharp curve where it side-swiped the dump truck, Maryland State Police said.

Thirty-nine middle and high school students were taken to local hospitals, but no one was admitted.

Wachsmuth, 36, of Smithsburg, was found at fault for the accident, but was not charged, state police said.

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Parents have repeatedly expressed concern about their children's safety on the bus. At least four parents complained to school board officials seven months before the accident that Wachsmuth was driving too fast.

Since the accident, Bumbaugh had been renting a spare bus from the school board, said William McKinley, executive director of support services.

Wachsmuth continued to drive the school bus for that route until this past Wednesday when Bumbaugh decided she no longer wanted to be a bus contractor, said Director of Transportation Chris Carter.

Since then substitute drivers employed through the school board have been driving that route and will continue to do so until the school board decides whether to hire another contractor, Carter said.

When asked by telephone whether she intended to apply for a job as a bus driver with the school board, Wachsmuth had no comment.

Bumbaugh said, "Enough stink has been raised about this. I think bygones ought to be bygones."

Bumbaugh, who lives in the Cascade area, owned only the one bus and decided to get out of the business rather than invest in a new one, McKinley said.

She wants to be let out of her contract with the school board, an issue the board is expected to address later this month or in early November, McKinley said.

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