Students continue trip despite bus accident

Posted May 24, 2010, at 3:09 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 11:55 a.m.

WASHBURN, Maine — Students from Washburn District High School who are taking part in a Destination ImagiNation competition in Tennessee were continuing their trip Monday despite a bus accident Sunday.

The participants are headed to Knoxville, Tenn., to compete in Destination ImagiNation’s Global Finals, which run May 26-29 at the University of Tennessee.

About an hour into their journey on Sunday afternoon, Darren Churchill, 44, apparently suffered a medical problem while at the wheel of the 2008 Bluebird school bus the students were riding to Bangor. The bus veered off U.S. Route 1 in Westfield around 4:30 p.m., struck an embankment and sheared off a telephone pole, according to Aroostook County Sheriff’s Sgt. Forrest Dudley.

The bus was badly damaged and sparked a grass fire at the scene, police said Sunday.

None of the 15 passengers was injured in the crash. The students, coaches and adult chaperones boarded a second bus that was brought to pick them up, and continued on to Bangor where they boarded a Cyr bus with other teams from the state on the way to Tennessee.

They were still in transit Monday, according to school officials. The entire trip is expected to take about 27 hours.

The Destination ImagiNation competition brings together 16,000 participants from the U.S. and more than 38 countries. Competitors take part in challenges that require them to problem solve, think creatively and work together.

The Washburn students, who will take part in two challenges at the meet, have been fundraising since April and raised enough money to take a bus to the competition.

Opening ceremonies for the global finals will be held Wednesday morning.

Churchill was taken by Crown Ambulance to The Aroostook Medical Center in Presque Isle for treatment. His status could not be determined Monday.

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