OXFORD, Maine — Superintendent Rick Colpitts said Wednesday that a video of the interior of a school bus that was struck head-on in Hebron on Tuesday indicates no students were thrown from their seats.
“The students were sitting appropriately when the car hit them,” he said. “There was a moment of jolt for most kids. They got up and were evacuated very quickly,” he said. At worst, one student sitting perhaps too close to the seat in front banged his nose on the bar, he said.
Eight of the 18 Oxford Middle School and Oxford Comprehensive High School students on Bus 32, and the bus driver were taken by ambulances to Stephens Memorial Hospital in Norway. Colpitts said the students were treated and released Tuesday night, along with the bus driver who was in some pain but appeared to have no broken bones.
“She’s doing well,” he said.
The accident occurred about 2:15 p.m. on Route 119 just past the Hebron/Paris town line. A car driven by a 19-year-old Brandon Buffington of Paris crossed the centerline and hit the front of the bus.
Buffington was listed in serious condition Wednesday at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston.
The cause of the crash is under investigation.
Colpitts said the bus driver immediately called the bus garage to report the accident and ask for an ambulance. The transportation director called for an ambulance and drove to the scene.
Also, shortly after that call, the news of the accident was put on the school’s website to inform parents.
Hebron Elementary School Principal Melanie Ellsworth, who happened to be driving by, stopped to assist the students, along with an unnamed parent who happened on the scene.
The students were taken out the back emergency door of the bus.
Colpitts said there is some confusion about how many children went to the hospital and how many were actually on the bus. Police said eight students were taken by ambulance to the hospital. Other students apparently were taken by their parents after they arrived home.
Colpitts said there normally would be 27 students on the bus, but police reported 18. He said he spent the better part of Wednesday morning trying to connect with parents of the students.
Middle School Principal Troy Eastman said one parent called to request a counselor meet with their child, who had been on the bus when it was hit.
At the high school, 11 students, mostly freshmen, were reported to have been on the bus, according to Principal Ted Moccia. Information whether any requested counseling was not available.
“We’re grateful that everything that could have been done was done. I think our system worked,” Colpitts said.