Nineteen Injured, Including 18 Smithville Schoolchildren, After School Bus Accident

The driver of a 1997 Ford Explorer was transported to Cooper University Hospital in Camden. The bus driver was uninjured.

Nineteen people were injured after an SUV collided with an Integrity Transportation school bus at Moss Mill and Old Port roads at 3:37 p.m. Thursday. 

The students on the bus attend nearby , officials at the scene confirmed. 

The bus was carrying 30 students; 18 of them complained of injuries, most of them minor, officials at the scene said. They were taken to area hospitals—14 to and four to AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center City Campus—for evaluation, authorities said.

The male driver of the SUV, a 1997 Ford Explorer, was airlifted via NJSP Southstar helicopter to a Cooper University Hospital in Camden after he was extricated from his vehicle.

According to , the bus driver, 21-year-old Jennifer McDonald, of Egg Harbor City, was traveling north on Port Road and stopped at the stop sign. She then attempted to make a left turn onto Moss Mill Road westbound when the bus collided with the Explorer. McDonald was uninjured.

The cause of the accident remains under investigation, and any witnesses are asked to contact Officer Kevin Costa at 609-652-3705, ext. 086.

This is the second serious school bus crash in Galloway this week. On Monday, four people were hospitalized after an Integrity Transportation school bus collided with an SUV at Herschel Street and Manheim Avenue. Police cited the bus driver for failure to stop at an intersection in that incident.

"Bus accidents are actually very rare, and it is actually one of the safest methods of travel," Superintendent of Schools Annette Giaquinto said on the scene. "We've been working with the bus company, and they actually just had a safety meeting. We will definitely do a follow-up with them. They advised me they were going to assess the situation and there is talk they may adjust the route."

Giaquinto said the district will be in touch with parents of children involved in the accident, and there will be extra counselors available at school tomorrow.

"It's scaring me," said Mayor Don Purdy, who was also on the scene and arrived there after watching his daughter perform at around the same time. "You kiss your kids in the morning and hope to see them at home that night. The bus drivers are tasked with getting our kids back and forth to school safely, and I just hope the driver is OK. I know the kids are in good hands."

Mohammed Hassan was on the scene to pick up his two children who were on the bus, but weren't among the injured. His son Sunduri Batu is in fourth grade, and his son Soresa Batu is in kindergarten.

"I heard from a neighbor that there had been a bus accident," Hassan said. "I didn't know what was going on, I just came to pick them up. ... I'm so glad they are OK."

Hassan also has two children enrolled in pre-K at the

Sunduri Batu said there was a lot of screaming on the bus at the time of the crash. The bus was evacuated, and Hassan described a lot of crying when he showed up to pick up his children.

Purdy said the grass along the side of the road was full of children when he arrived, and he praised the efforts of the surrounding police and fire departments and emergency services, who responded promptly.

"Atlantic City Airport was here. Anyone who was in the area was here," Purdy said. "Participation was immediate."

The bus had just left the school, and the crash took place early in the commute. This allowed, multiple staff members from the school to arrive on the scene and provide immediate assistance, Giaquinto said.

"The response from ambulance, emergency services and police was excellent in securing the scene," Giaquinto said. "Quite a few staff came down to assist. They were using their cell phones to contact parents (quickly).

"The negative side of that is that there were more children on the bus."

"I feel blessed that it wasn't life-threatening," Purdy said. "For what it was and what it could have been, somebody must've been watching over."

The Atlantic County EMS Task Force (Mutual Aid Ambulances) and AtlantiCare Medics responded, as well as Bayview, Oceanville and Port Republic Fire Companies for extrication (Ford Explorer) and to support EMS, police said.

Today's crash was the ninth in the State of New Jersey involving a school bus this year. It comes four days after Sen. Donald Norcross announced that he was drafting legislation to require every school bus in the state to be fit with a strobe light on the roof to increase visibility of the vehicle.

“This is another step to increase school bus visibility,” Norcross said in a statement issued on Monday, March 26. “Given recent events, it is clear that we need to include more measures to ensure the safety of the children on board.”

The most severe of the nine accidents injured 17 children and resulted in the death of an 11-year-old girl.

“School buses are historically safe vehicles, but there is always room for improvement,” Norcross, of the Fifth Legislative District, said. “Any measure taken to reduce the possibility of an accident should be considered.”

Stay with Patch for updates on this story. 

nascarfan March 29, 2012 at 10:35 PM
I guess she figured traffic would come to a halt to allow the big yellow bus to proceed. Typical of a lot of school bus drivers in New Jersey. They're some of the worst on the road.
amanda martin March 29, 2012 at 10:54 PM
I am just thankful the children are safe and no deaths were involved I was so scared when I heard there was an accident my child rides one of the smithville school busses. A few of her friends were rushed to the hospital and it scared her...@ Ken that intersection is the worse if you live in the area you would know...
Steve March 29, 2012 at 11:15 PM
Kenny Ken pluggin' in with the big comment there....yikes. Anyway, that intersection does require caution for sure. The busses pulling out of there after school notoriously roll through that stop sign as they form a convoy of sorts entering Moss Mill Rd. I've witnesses it many times myself while on foot and driving. I can imagine that is what happened here and in combination with a fast moving vehicle coming around that blind turn it's a perfect storm for an accident. Being a parent with a child who rides a bus at Smithville School.....it's concerning. They (the school) should send someone down to that intersection to direct traffic for the 10 minutes or so to shuttle the busses through that intersection. Traffic should be stopped on Moss Mill as the busses make their way out. They do this in other areas throughout the county. Just a thought.
Anthony Bellano (Editor) March 29, 2012 at 11:30 PM
According to the police report, it appears the bus did stop at the stop sign.
nascarfan March 30, 2012 at 12:03 AM
Stopping is one thing, but waiting until it's safe to proceed is another.
Donna jabier March 30, 2012 at 12:04 AM
I been a school bus driver for 15 years and I've seen well over my share of people cutting us bus drivers off. I've been lucky in my years of driving that I have been able to avoid being hit by other vehicles. People see us and they speed up to try and get ahead of us because they don't want to be behind us. I've been driving that intersection for all of my 15 years of driving and it's the people speeding around that curve and they don't slow down when they see us bus drivers in the intersection. We are a school bus weighing 10 ton fully loaded, NOT a race car that can go 0-60 in a few seconds. Also the overgrowth of the trees and brush makes it difficult for us drivers to see, we sit higher in a bus and our sight is different than those in cars. Also us bus drivers are sick and tired of people cutting us off and running our red school lights when we are stopped. I'm sure any parent would be pissed if a driver ran the red school lights in front of thier kid.So STOP pointing your fingers at us, until you do our job you have no idea what we have to put up with on the road let alone what happens on the bus with the children that misbehave. There should be more crossing lights at this intersection, along with Reeds road and other area intersections. traffic in Southern jersey has increased over the years and we need more traffic lights.
lissa March 30, 2012 at 12:39 AM
I understand the concern for the children on the bus. But not a 1 of u have said anything about the SUV driver. That man is my father, a grandfather, a brother, n a son. He was just going to get coffee not out to get hit by a bus and fighting for his life
lissa March 30, 2012 at 12:45 AM
I've watched bus drivers do the absolute most idiotic things a driver can possibly do. I know that intersection extremely well. Even if she stopped at the sign, she had to have seen him coming. She just thought she could speed out by him. That 2 seconds she could have waited for him to pass. I am glad the children will physically ok thou
Lauren Burgoon March 30, 2012 at 12:54 AM
LIssa, If you'd like to comment for Galloway Patch, please contact Anthony Bellano (anthony.bellano@patch.com) or me at lauren.burgoon@patch.com or 856-952-4366.
craig siman March 30, 2012 at 01:06 AM
Opinions are worthless without the facts. If you weren't standing at the intersection at 3:30 PM then you have no idea what transpired. This much is certain, making a left onto Moss Mill from Old Port is dangerous --- with that said, the solution is simple, adjust the bus route.
Teresa March 30, 2012 at 02:04 AM
@lissa.. I really hope your father is ok. This was the 2nd article I went on that gave scant details about him. It is obvious from the pictures that he did not come out the winner in that collision. I'm crossing my fingers for him and your family. T
Soldier March 30, 2012 at 02:53 AM
bus drivers are some of the worst drivers ever. I remember getting into bus accidents all the time in jersey. They'd crash into poles, they suck at their jobs. A lot of bus drivers have anger problems too, which is probably why they suck at driving. Also, I remember missing my bus constantly because bus drivers are impatient and my locker was far away from my bus so I had to run all the time to my bus and most of the time I missed it. I had to walk home almost every day. I do not like Bus Drivers, the ones I were around were unfriendly. I'm not shocked that there's bus drivers beating on kids and getting into accidents.
bbking March 30, 2012 at 03:30 AM
If you know the intersection very well, than you know they need a light there. You say she speeded out. Did every think he might of speeded up to beat her. Let get real accidents do happen.
amanda martin March 30, 2012 at 04:13 AM
Lissa I am sorry to hear that it was your grandfather my prayers do go out to him as well as your family I was just stating that the intersection is very bad. Didn't mean to start a war or anything but my mom is also a bus driver as well she tells me everyday driving a school bus is stressful. There are a lot of kids who do misbehave on the school bus. When my daughter gets dropped off outside in the afternoon there are kids always standing up yelling out the windows stinking there arms out and the bus drivers have to deal with that everyday My daughter also has had a couple incidents where her ex bus driver hit something and drove off scared the kids half to death and has ran up over the curb and backed into a telephone pole. Not all bus drivers are bad drivers...once again my prayers go out to your family lissa and your grandfather.
Ronda Cluff March 30, 2012 at 11:42 AM
There needs to be a light there. I'm at that intersection a lot and I've seen buses do a rolling stop but I also know that most drivers don't observe the speed limit on Moss Mill. Because of the way Moss Mill curves, the visibility when you're on Old Port is horrible, too. I believe there are probably a hundred near-misses there a day involving all kinds of vehicles and people who probably think they are safe drivers!
Jo Mongiello March 30, 2012 at 12:26 PM
I hope the driver of the SUV is well and I will say a prayer for him. Not knowing the cirumcsrtances I do not think we can rush to judgment but one thing I can say is that I see school busses travelling at higher than safe speeds quite often and it disturbs be.Besides these two school bus accidents there have been others in south jersey lately. Perhaps seat belts and more mature drivers for busses is part of the answer. Jo Mongiello
Josephine Bellina March 30, 2012 at 12:47 PM
Thank you, Donna. It's takes more than a second for a school bus to pull through an intersection. If you look at the photo, the bus was more than half-way through the intersection. The SUV was going way too fast AND if you notice there are no skid marks, so the driver of the SUV did not slow down or hit the brake. If you are coming up on an intersection,and it's a blind turn, at that time of day, even if you have the right of way you really need to be more cautious. I am not a bus driver but I handled auto claims and I would argue in favor of the bus driver: front end vs rear damage on the bus. Familiarity should make people more cautious. We've all been there, we just pulled from the driveway putting on sunglasses, etc...however, when people are too familiar they often do not pay attention. If you live in the area, you know they let the kids out at the time, slow down. I take issue with the characterization in the article that the the "bus collided with the SUV" common sense would tell you the SUV struck the bus. The SUV has the front end damage and the bus has damage near the rear wheel. And "Lissa," I am very sorry for your father was injured and I hope he pulls through. I do not know you personally but I do know it's difficult to have a loved one who is seriously injured...and I also hope all the kids, especially, the ones that went to city division, who were probably the more seriously injured are okay, too.
Dave Somers March 30, 2012 at 01:29 PM
I hope the driver of the suv pulls through this okay. It certainly appears the bus driver was at fault but that intersection is very dangerous and people do drive too fast. There is definitely a blind spot caused by the curve on Moss Mill when pulling out of Old Port Road.
AG April 01, 2012 at 10:39 PM
I'm sure the bus driver stopped - but making a left turn at that intersection is not safe. Cars come speeding down that curved hill all the time. Considering it hit the back of the bus, the driver of the SUV should have had plenty of time to stop. I will go out of my way to avoid that intersection.
Sunduri Batu November 13, 2013 at 05:56 PM
i will rember this whole my life because this is my accident on the road


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