AEGIS STAFF REPORT
4:44 PM EST, December 21, 2012
Ten passengers of a charter bus traveling on I-95 from Delaware to Baltimore's Inner Harbor were taken to hospitals Friday morning, after the bus driver fell asleep and drove part way up an embankment and then brought the vehicle to stop along the shoulder near Aberdeen, Maryland State Police said.
Shortly after 8:45 a.m., emergency medical and fire personnel were called to an incident involving a charter bus, in which injuries were reported, at mile post 87.6 on southbound I-95 between the Maxa Road overpass and Paradise Road underpass.
Sgt. Beads, duty officer at the Maryland State Police at the JFK Barrack, said initial reports from troopers at the scene said the bus had run off the road after the driver "passed out or fell asleep" and ran up an embankment then went back on the roadway.
The bus was carrying 48 passengers, and some complained of what Beads called "minor injuries." Personnel at the scene, however, said one person sustained what was considered to be a serious injury.
Harford County government spokesman Bob Thomas said Friday afternoon that the most seriously injured person was transported by ambulance to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, eight less seriously injured people were taken to Harford Memorial Hospital in Havre de Grace and one other was transported to Union Hospital in Elkton.
A follow up news release from State Police late Friday afternoon said most passengers were taken to the hospital "for precautionary reasons."
Two passengers interviewed by a reporter at the scene said they weren't sure what had happened, but that the bus had drifted onto the shoulder and then back onto the roadway and then off again. The terrain drops off in the area where the bus stopped, and the guardrail may have prevented what could have been a much more serious accident.
The bus was carrying a group of teachers from Newark, Del., to a daylong outing in Baltimore's Inner Harbor, passengers said.
The driver of a charter bus, owned by Dawson Bus Company of Delaware, was later identified by State Police as Kirk M. Wilshire, 54, with an address in Wyoming, Del.
According to the State Police news release, Wilshire "apparently fell asleep, which allowed the occupied bus to drift off the roadway. The bus drove up an embankment. The operator awoke and steered the bus back onto the interstate. The driver maneuvered the bus onto the right shoulder of the roadway and stopped the vehicle."
Investigators suspected the bus may have sustained undercarriage damage as a result of driving off the roadway, State Police said. As a result, Dawson dispatched a replacement bus to the scene for safety reasons and transported the remaining passengers to their destination.
Maryland State Police Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division will be conducting a post-collision inspection on the bus to determine whether there were any mechanical issues that may have contributed to this incident, according to the news release. Meanwhile, State Police said Wiltshire was cited for operating a motor vehicle while fatigued and negligent driving.
Southbound traffic was backed up on I-95 for two hours, while police investigated and fire and emergency medical personnel assisted the injured. The scene was cleared around 11 a.m., according to the Harford County Fire and EMS Association's media Facebook page.
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