School Bus Involved in Serious Accident

UPDATE: As of 11pm, all the students were out of the hospital.

About 2:45pm, a Chatham County school bus was involved in a serious accident on King George Blvd. Several Windsor Forest High School students were transported by ambulance from the scene.

Bus 502 was coming from the high school along Wild Heron Road. At the intersection with King George, it completely flipped over in the accident. All the students and the driver--13 people in all--escaped by whatever exits they could find.

All the students from the bus were taken to area hospitals; three were taken to Memorial Health and nine were taken to St. Joseph's Candler, along with the driver of the bus. Many of them were unharmed, with no life-threatening injuries reported.

Savannah-Chatham police spokesman Sgt. Mike Wilson tells us everybody appeared to be okay at the scene. "We're told that all of the students, as well as the bus driver, were conscious and alert at the time of the accident," he said. "They all managed to escape. They were up and walking around, some of them. We don't know to what extent their injuries are at this time."

Memorial Health confirmed about 5:30pm that the students brought there were treated and released. St. Joseph's officials said around 6pm that four of the children brought there had been released and the others were in stable condition.

The school superintendent came to St. Joseph's hospital to get a firsthand look at the aftermath. School spokesman James Harvey told us, "This is a bad situation, and even though our students...will be okay, it's important that the superintendent be with them, just to make sure they're okay."

Windsor Forest's principal, Linda Herman, says the first thing she did was contact every parent who had a child on the bus, then she get in her car and headed to the scene. "I wanted to get over there as quickly as possible," she said. "EMS and the police and the emergency folks had already gotten there, and so they already were getting statements from people who saw it. Most of the kids had already been transported. I just mainly wanted to check on their condition and make sure that they all were okay."

Principal Herman says many parents from Windsor Forest High School showed up at the scene to find out if their children were on the bus. Fortunately, the driver had already dropped off most of the students.

Residents in the area say when when they heard the crash it was so loud it sounded like a plane crash, and power in the area immediately went out. The bus hit a pole and took down a power line when it flipped. Savannah Electric crews were on the scene trying to get the power lines off the bus.

"Power lines over the school bus, big problem," said assistant fire chief Hugh Futrell with the Southside Fire Department. "You don't know whether lines are energized or not after the line's been hit like this. A school bus hit this telephone pole, and because of that, it could drop and injure other people."

As of 5:30pm, crews had righted the bus and begun retrieving students' belongs. Savannah Electric crews were on scene working to get the power back on.

Representatives from the bus company, Laidlaw, tell us the driver was a seasoned, veteran driver on her usual route.

Investigators have indicated that speed was a contributing factor in the wreck. Police say appropriate charges will be determined pending the outcome of an ongoing investigation.

Reported by: WTOC staff