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Bus accidents among many on Tri-State area roads

December 06, 2007|By DAVE McMILLION

TRI-STATE - A Jefferson County Schools bus and a tow truck collided on Summit Point Road Wednesday afternoon, one of an estimated 30 to 40 crashes in the county as the first significant snowfall hit the region.

Six students on the bus were taken to Jefferson Memorial Hospital Wednesday afternoon after the tow truck collided with the bus at the intersection of Lloyd Road, police said.

Although the students had various pains and one complained of a possible eye injury, they were later released from the hospital after observation, rescue and school officials said.

The driver of the bus, Heather Dunn, 23, was taken to Winchester (Va.) Medical Center for a hand injury, officials said.

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The driver of the 1985 Chevrolet tow truck, identified as Todd Thompson, 42, of 2068 Huyett Road, Charles Town, was attempting to make a right turn at the intersection when his truck slid across the center line and struck the bus almost head-on, said Cpl. D.C. Tabler of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department.

Thompson was not hurt.

Robert Boylan, coordinator of transportation for Jefferson County Schools, said the bus appeared to be totaled in the 2:20 p.m. crash, said

The left front wheel of the bus was snapped off its axle, there was heavy body damage and it appears its frame was damaged, Tabler said.

"That bus was hit pretty hard," Tabler said.

Officials said the students were jostled around in the bus when it was struck.

About 45 children were on the bus and they were heading home following classes at South Jefferson Elementary School, said Ed Smith, chief of Independent Fire Co.

The students who were not taken to Jefferson Memorial Hospital were put on another bus and taken back to South Jefferson Elementary to meet their parents, Smith said.

A crowd of parents and children gathered inside the entrance to the school as parents met up with their children and began taking them home.

John Hill, who was picking up his sister's child, said parents were "a little upset" over the ordeal but he and other parents said everyone felt relieved after realizing no one was seriously hurt.

Another Jefferson County Schools bus was struck as the same Summit Point Road intersection about 8:30 a.m. Wednesday but it resulted only in minor damage and no one was hurt, Boylan said.

The season's first significant snowfall wreaked havoc on area roads, and police said they were swamped handling calls for accidents that numbered up to 40.

Motorists were dealing with treacherous road conditions into the night Wednesday, police said.

Martinsburg, W.Va., received 6 inches of snow and Shepherdstown, W.Va., saw 5 inches fall, said Andy Woodcock, meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Sterling, Va.

No figures were available for Charles Town.

Berkeley County

Emergency dispatchers in Berkeley and Morgan counties said they received numerous reports of multi-vehicle pileups, fender benders and stuck vehicles.

"Where we haven't been yet, it's pretty treacherous," said Darrell Parsons, the acting Division of Highways supervisor for state road maintenance in Berkeley County.

At 2 p.m., Parsons said all of the county's primary roads had been treated, but conditions on rural routes were made worse by compacted snow. Parsons said DOH officials had 1,600 tons of salt stockpiled for both Interstate 81 and county roads.

At 2:30 p.m., a school bus loaded with students dismissed early from classes because of the weather was delayed in returning home because of a Scrabble Road accident, but no one was injured, Superintendent Manny P. Arvon confirmed.

"We were very lucky today and fortunate," said Arvon, adding that all of the county's bus students made it home by 4 p.m.

Martinsburg City Manager Mark Baldwin said the city's roads were slick for a while, but reported streets were largely cleared of snow at 3 p.m.

"We'll be working throughout the night," Baldwin said. "We're prepared. We're ready for winter."

Morgan County

More than 420 miles of Morgan County roadways are maintained by the West Virginia Department of Highways, and the first snowfall did not catch the agency off guard.

John Coleman, the county highway administrator, said the department began treating the roads with salt about 7:30 a.m. and began plowing before noon. He said more than 500 tons of salt is available. "The bin is full," Coleman said.

He said the primary roads had been plowed by Wednesday afternoon, and the department was working on the secondary roads.

The workers "will be out all night," Coleman said.

About 2 1/2 inches of snow had fallen in Morgan County by late afternoon, and about 3 inches of snow was predicted, he said.

Franklin County, Pa.

Waynesboro, Pa., had 5.2 inches of snow and Chambersburg, Pa., recorded 4 inches, Woodcock said.

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