By Karen Blackledge
The Daily Item
VALLEY TWP. — Fourteen vo-tech students were taken to a hospital after their bus slid off icy Klein Road and overturned Tuesday.
The students, young men and women from the Danville area ranging in age from 14 to 17, were headed to Columbia-Montour Area Vocational-Technical School when the crash occurred at about 7:40 a.m., according to state police at Milton.
The bus left the road and crashed onto its left side, coming to rest on a hill along the windy road.
Three of the students were admitted to Geisinger Medical Center in fair condition Tuesday. The other 11 were treated at Geisinger and released, a hospital spokesman said.
Vo-Tech Director Bill Forsythe was at the crash. He said the students were in ninth through 12th grades. He said he couldn’t disclose the nature of their injuries.
State police at Milton cited the driver, Calvin R. Straub, 72, of Danville, with driving too fast for road conditions Straub was not hurt, according to the police report.
The crash occurred at a bend on Klein Road, at least one mile off Route 642. It appeared the bus was heading down the bend at the time.
Valley Township Fire Chief Mike Kull said the students and driver were out of the Fishing Creek bus by the time he arrived. He said it didn’t appear chains were on the bus tires.
A Myers bus, from nearby Bald Top, was brought to the scene as a back-up.
Bus crash protocol
The Hospital Incident Command System at Geisinger was successfully initiated once the call came in around 8:05 a.m. but it was called off about an hour later, said hospital spokesman Michael Ferlazzo.
Numerous ambulances were called in accordance to protocol for a school bus accident, said Kull.
Kull said Danville ambulances sent as many trucks as possible. Ambulances from Lewisburg, White Deer and Elysburg also responded. Kull estimated 10 ambulances were summoned but added not all were needed.
Officials assess crash
Liberty-Valley Intermediate School Principal Chris Johns was on the scene early because he was the nearest school official at the time. Danville Primary School Principal John Bickhart also traveled to the crash.
The principals said it was tough to tell the types of injuries. “A lot of the students were shaken up,” Johns said.
Superintendent Cheryl Latorre asked Johns to go to the scene. Bickhart went because he was available.
Latorre’s secretary responded and a school nurse was also there.
“We called all the parents as soon as we had information,” Latorre said. She said she couldn’t release the names of the students and couldn’t disclose the kinds of injuries because of school policy.
Forsythe said all of the parents went to Geisinger after they were notified. Some picked their children up at Geisinger.
Snow delay decisions
Latorre said the consensus among superintendents sending students to vo-tech was that the students would go to school because vo-tech had school Tuesday.
“We looked at the weather forecast and noted it was supposed to get crazy in the afternoon and it didn’t indicate anything major in the morning based on the AccuWeather reports we receive,” she said.
Latorre said the other six districts that send students to vo-tech sent students to school Tuesday. Danville district students started their Thanksgiving vacation Tuesday.
Danville teachers and administrators were in school.
Forsythe said superintendents of districts that send students to the school decide if students will go to school or if there will be a delay. “I imagine most of them confer. I get the call as to who will be delayed,” he said.
Valley Township and Liberty Township fire companies responded along with fire police and state police at Milton.
The entrance to Klein Road, at Route 642, was blocked to traffic except for emergency vehicles. Valley Township and Mahoning Township road crews cindered and salted the area.
Several other weather-related accidents kept emergency responders, fire companies and ambulance personnel busy Tuesday morning.
An accident was reported on Kaseville Road in Mahoning Township.
Other crashes were in the jurisdiction of state police, according to the Montour County 911 Center.
They included an accident in Rush Township and a crash on Interstate 80.
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