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Baltimore County school bus flips over, children suffer minor injuries

Highway and Road DisastersTransportation Disasters

Ten Pikesville Middle School students had to scramble out of the emergency exits of their school bus Friday morning after the driver lost control and the bus flipped off the side of a Baltimore County road.

The accident sent five students and the female bus driver to area hospitals with minor injuries, while five other students were picked up at the scene by their parents, said Chief Mike Robinson, a Baltimore County Fire Department spokesman.

The injuries sustained by the driver were not described. Robinson said the students were "mainly shaken up."

Mychael Dickerson, spokesman for the county schools, said late Friday afternoon that all the students who had been taken to the hospital were released. "The worst injury was a sprained ankle," he said.

During the crash, which appeared to have sent the bus nearly end-over-end, windows were smashed and a tree pierced the front left wheel well.

The bus, which did not have seat belts for the children, came to rest on its left side, nearly on its roof, in a gully full of brambles, trees, vines and other vegetation, its door pointed skyward.

Diana Spencer, a Baltimore County public schools spokeswoman, said "everyone was mobile and able to get off the bus" on their own shortly after the accident, which occurred about 7:30 a.m. in the 10800 block of Greenspring Ave. "We are lucky," Spencer said.

The accident, which did not include any other vehicles, closed Greenspring Avenue between Greenspring Valley Road and Hillside Road.

Neither police nor school officials have identified the cause of the accident, which remains under investigation. The driver, who has not been identified, will be questioned and tested for drugs and alcohol as part of the routine investigation, school officials said.

Police said Friday afternoon that investigators were reviewing evidence and interviewing witnesses. They said no additional information was available.

The school system is also conducting an internal investigation, Spencer said.

At the scene, police, emergency personnel and school officials surveyed the damage for hours, studying two black skid marks showing what appeared to be the sharp-curving path of the bus off the roadway.

Though traveling south at the time of the accident, the bus came to rest with its front end pointed north.

About 10 a.m., the badly damaged bus started to be towed out of the roadside gully.

The frame of the bus groaned. Part of a tree jutting through its front end had to be cut with a chain saw before it could be wrenched upward and back onto the street. The rooftop emergency hatches, the children's likely escape route, were open.

The bus had three cameras on board: two facing the back of the bus and one facing forward. "Our next step is going to be to review the footage," Spencer said at the scene.

Extra counselors were made available at Pikesville Middle for students, she said, including some of the uninjured students who were on the bus and went to school after the crash.

The bus is owned by Woodlawn Motor Coach and is three or four years old, Spencer said.

krector@baltsun.com

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