Police said the school bus driver is at fault in a collision that occurred Wednesday morning at Manchester Valley High School, the fifth crash of a Carroll County Public Schools bus in 11 school days.
The bus turned left from Maple Grove Road into the high school entrance and into the path of a 2001 Dodge Neon driven by a 50-year-old Taneytown man, said Jonathan Light, public information officer for Carroll County Sheriff’s Office.
Mike Hardesty, Carroll County Public Schools director of transportation, identified the bus as Bus 44 and said the car was heading west on Maple Grove Road when it hit the passenger side of the bus.
Four of the 23 students on board said they suffered minor injuries and were seen by emergency medical services before being released to their parents after the 7:05 a.m. crash, said Brenda Bowers, a spokeswoman for Carroll County Public Schools.
Police found the bus driver, a 65-year-old Manchester man, to be at fault and issued him traffic citations, Light wrote in an email. Neither driver was injured and the Dodge was towed, Light said. The four students who said they were injured refused further care after being seen by EMS, Light said.
After the crash, the bus driver continued to the school, dropped off the students and reported the incident to the school resource officer, Hardesty said.
“The driver did not follow our procedures,” Hardesty said.
According to those procedures, Hardesty said, the driver should call 911 immediately and notify the school district after a crash. He said the driver is a three-year veteran and will be tested for controlled substances, which is standard procedure. The school district will investigate the crash, as it does with all school bus accidents, Hardesty said.
Neither fog nor sunlight were factors in the crash, according to Hardesty. The accident review committee will meet with the driver and watch camera footage from the bus as part of the district’s investigation, he said.
Amberly Blizzard had just dropped her grandson off at school and was waiting in her car to turn left onto Maple Grove Road when the bus crash happened in front of her.
“He made a left right in front of it,” Blizzard said. “I don’t think he saw him.”
Blizzard, who has three grandchildren who attend county schools, called the recent spike in bus accidents concerning.
“It does worry me,” she said.
She drives her grandson to high school at least three days a week because it’s convenient for their family. She said the congestion she experiences at the entrance to Manchester Valley High is “horrific” at times.
The school district has 42 contractors who provide bus drivers to the schools,Hardesty said. All six buses involved in the past five crashes have had different contractors, he said, and Wednesday’s crash involved contractor F&S Transportation.
Two crashes occurred Dec. 20, in which Rills Bus Service and Sunset Bus Service were involved, according to Hardesty. In the morning, a Rills bus transporting special-needs students hit a guardrail in Finksburg, though no injuries were reported. Later that day, two adults and one child were taken to the hospital after a U-Haul truck and a Sunset school bus collided in Hampstead.
On Jan. 8, two Carroll County school buses crashed in Woodbine after unexpected snow squalls swept through the county. Three students suffered minor injuries and one 16-year-old boy was taken to Carroll Hospital to treat a head injury. The bus contractors were Seiler Bus and Bauer Bus, according to Hardesty.
The years of experience of the drivers involved in these crashes also varies. One received bus driver certification as recently as May 2018, while two others have been certified since 2000, Hardesty said.