HEBRON, Maine — Eight Oxford Hills School District middle and high school students are being treated in the Stephens Memorial Hospital in Norway for back, neck injuries and shock following a head on collision between a car and school bus Tuesday afternoon on Route 119.
The driver of the car was Brandon Buffington, 19, of Paris, according to Oxford County Sheriff’s Department Lt. Brian Landis. He is being treated in Central Maine Medical Center for possible broken legs and a broken arm, according to his grandfather Paris Deputy Fire Chief Willie Buffington.
According to police, 18 students were on the bus when Buffington’s 1999 Audi A4 veered across the roadway and smashed directly into the front of the bus.
Landis said the students’ ages ranged from about 12 to 16 years and live in Hebron, Buckfield and Oxford. Bus driver Stephanie Rowe of Paris was not injured, he said.
Buffington, a student at an Auburn vocational training center, was driving westbound on Route 119 near the Hebron/Paris town line shortly before 2:30 p.m. when he veered into the bus. The impact apparently sent the car in a spin, where it landed off the road headed eastbound.
“It was my grandson,” said Willie Buffington.
The deputy chief said he arrived at the scene in a squad truck not knowing his grandson was involved. He jumped out of the truck right behind the bus, grabbed a generator and ran to the side of the bus where he saw the back end of his grandson’s car.
Buffington said his grandson, who was taken by ambulance to the playing fields at Hebron Academy where he was transported by LifeFlight to Central Maine Medical Center, appears to have suffered broken bones in the crash.
“He’s young and strong. He’ll be able to recover with time,” he said.
A witness to the accident who was driving westbound directly behind Brandon Buffington told the Sun Journal he saw the Audi swerve in front of the bus.
“He just swerved in front of the bus and that was it,” said Isiah Carro, 23, of Paris, who was also on his way home from Auburn.
“It may have been an overcorrection. The car did a very quick jerk,” said Carro, who estimated the cars were driving between 30 and 45 miles per hour. The speed limit on the state highway is 45 miles per hour, according to Oxford County Sheriff Wayne Gallant.
Carro said he stopped his car, put the brake on and ran over to help the driver.
“I didn’t know what I was going to see. I heard a moaning. I tried to rip the door open but his legs were under the steering wheel. He tried to pull himself out,” said Carro, who had to wait for firefighters to arrive with the Jaws of Life to pull the roof off the car.
The impact of the accident blew the sneakers off his grandson, said Willie Buffington.
The students who were not taken to the hospital were placed in another bus and taken away from the accident scene. SAD 17 Transportation Director David Fontaine was on the scene to help the students make that transfer.
Superintendent Rick Colpitts said none of the student injuries were believed to be life threatening.
Police on the scene closed a portion of the road to allow for medical response and a reconstruction team that were still at the site at 5 p.m. The team includes a state police commercial unit as well as two state troopers and sheriff’s deputies.
The cause of the accident remains under investigation.
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