A wrecker tows away the school bus involved in the accident. (Source: WECT)
Bladen County emergency crews responded to a bus accident in Clarkton Friday afternoon.(Source: WECT)
CLARKTON, NC (WECT) -
A bus driver was cited for exceeding a safe speed in an accident involving a Bladen County school bus last Friday.
Bladen County emergency crews responded to the accident around 3:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 6. According to Bradley Kinlaw, emergency services director for Bladen County, the bus rolled over onto its side on Mercer Mill Road between Elizabethtown and Clarkton. No other vehicles were involved in the accident.
Kinlaw said 39 students, ranging from kindergarten to 8th grade, were on board and 18 were taken to the hospital with mostly minor injuries.
According to Sgt. J.M. Lewis with the North Carolina State Highway Patrol, the driver was cited for exceeding a safe speed while taking a curve. An initial review of GPS data by Bladen County school officials indicate the bus was traveling 44 mph. The posted speed limit was 55 mph.
Lieutenant Jeff Gordon with the North Carolina Highway patrol explained that even though the school bus was traveling below the posted speed limit, the bus driver was traveling too fast for the curve and lost control.
School buses in the state of North Carolina are governed to a top speed of 45 mph.
School officials say an on-board distraction caused the driver to veer off the road and the bus to tip over onto its right side. School officials are still investigating the cause of that distraction. The driver was not using a phone at the time of the accident, according to Sgt. Lewis.
There are currently two investigations ongoing, one by Highway Patrol and another by Bladen County Schools.
The driver has been restricted from driving a Bladen County school bus pending the result of the investigation.