FARMINGTON, Maine — A Mt. Blue School District bus and a tractor-trailer collided head-on Tuesday afternoon, requiring five students to be taken to Franklin Memorial Hospital.
The bus was stopped at about 2:40 p.m. in front of the Life Enrichment Advancing People office on the Farmington Falls Road when the accident occurred, Superintendent Mike Cormier said.
Fourteen students — Josh Lasher, Megan Lasher, Lily Swearinger, Lea St. Laurent, Natalie Fahn, Roshan Luick, Brian Durrell, Sydney Coldwell, Kiesha Daggett, Brandon Durrell, Austin Hardy, David McDonald, Jacques Hebert and Ryan Voter — from Mt. Blue Middle and High schools were on the bus. Several received bruises and cuts. Authorities did not identify which five were taken to Franklin Memorial Hospital in Farmington.
Their injuries included cut lips and bruised noses, Farmington police officer William Tanner said. They were able to walk off the bus to waiting NorthStar ambulances, he said.
The 1994 school bus, driven by Gerard Simard, 71, of Jay had just come down High Street and stopped at the sign to enter Route 2. After entering the highway, he put on his yellow lights to stop and let off a student.
A pickup truck driven by Sean Lynch of Brooks was traveling in the opposite lane and stopped for the school bus when the lights came on.
“I looked at the school bus driver and he was frozen,” Lynch said at the scene.
He said he started to wonder why the driver was bracing himself and glanced in his rearview mirror to see a tractor-trailer bearing down on his truck.
Michael Matheny, 39, couldn’t stop the 2005 International tractor-trailer from hitting the pickup, so he went around it and tried to pull back into the eastbound lane.
He didn’t make it and struck the bus head-on, sending it backward about 30 feet, Lynch said.
Students called their parents from the bus and several arrived to pick up their children.
“They are obviously shaken and several students received minor injuries,” Mt. Blue Middle School Principal Gary Oswald said at the scene. He said school officials also contacted parents.
Police said the bus driver injured a knee but was walking around after the accident and appeared to be fine.
The truck driver, who was not injured, was driving for FW Madden of Akron, Ohio. He had just picked up a full load of lumber in Dixfield and was heading back to Ohio via Route 2 to Augusta. He didn’t realize he could have gone down Route 4, Tanner said.
Police said he was driving about 25 mph in a 45-mph zone, but slick roads affected his ability to stop.
No charges were expected, Tanner said.
Cormier said district officials advised the parents of the children not taken to the hospital to keep an eye on them and to seek treatment if they feel they were injured or if concerns emerge during the evening.
Recent snow made driving conditions “greasy,” Cormier said.
A Maine State Police officer from the Commercial Vehicle Weight and Measures unit arrived to reconstruct the accident.
The bus and the truck were removed from the scene by Collins Wrecker, Tanner said.
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