Staff Report
Three local school students and the driver of a Ware County school bus that rear-ended a semi on U.S. 1 just south of Walmart Wednesday afternoon were transported to Memorial Satilla Health Waycross for treatment of minor injuries, said Georgia State Patrol Sgt. Chad Woods, Waycross post commander.
Brenda Cowart, 53, of Waycross, had visible injuries and children who attend DAFFODIL Pre-K Center and Center Elementary School sustained what were called “bumps and scrapes,” said Rhonda Swinea, GSP Waycross post secretary.
“No one had serious injuries, thank the Lord,” Woods said. “Some of the kids bumped their heads on the seats and of course those have to be checked out.”
Paige Coker, representing the Ware County School System, said that staff nurses from local schools responded to the scene of the collision to lend a hand.
“Supt. (Bert) Smith was very pleased with the quick response to the situation and commended our nurses from nearby schools in the system for helping assess the bus passengers for injuries and providing first aid,” Coker said. “The Memorial Drive Elementary School staff did an excellent job comforting DAFFODIL and Center Elementary students and helping them reconnect with their parents.
“This event put our response plans into action, and we were pleased with the result.”
The school system transmitted a statement shortly after the collision happened in the southbound lanes of U.S. 1 indicating that the injured were taken by ambulance to the local ER “for observation.”
At about 2:20 p.m. at Memorial Drive and Lynn Taylor Crossing, a tractor trailer driven by Goran Arnautovic, 39, of Jacksonville, Fla., stopped at a red traffic light at the intersection, Woods said, but the bus driver was not able to stop in time and the bus hit the back end of the trailer.
Woods said damage to the bus was, “very extensive. The whole front end of the bus was heavily damaged.”
Trooper Justin Jones was stopped at the red light in the northbound lane and saw the crash happen, Woods said.
“He was in the right place at the right time to act quickly,” Woods said.
Traffic was shut down in one lane while lawmen investigated the crash and EMTs rendered care to the children and the driver, Woods said.
“We rerouted traffic around the crash so we only had to shut down one lane,” Woods said.
Smith, the school superintendent, issued a statement after the accident to let the public (mainly parents) know about the crash:
“A Ware County Schools bus transporting students from DAFFODIL Pre-K and Center Elementary School has been involved in a vehicular accident. Law enforcement, EMTs and other emergency responders were summoned to the scene of the accident, where a small number of minor injuries were reported. Fortunately, none of the injuries are life-threatening. Three students and the bus driver have been transported to the hospital for observation. Center Elementary students have boarded another bus so the route may continue, and parents of DAFFODIL Pre-K may pick their children up from Memorial Drive Elementary School.
School system administrators are onsite to render aid, comfort students and facilitate the transfer of students to the alternate bus. Our transportation department has a very safe driving record, and this was an isolated incident.
Regardless, I want you to be aware as we partner with you for the safety of your child. Thank you for entrusting your child to our care.”