CORINTH, Maine — A local man was taken to a Bangor hospital Wednesday after the car he was driving rear-ended a school bus with a driver and 13 elementary school students aboard.
Though no one on the bus suffered serious injuries, the driver of the car, George Boone, 78, was taken to Eastern Maine Medical Center, where he still was being evaluated Wednesday evening.
Corinth firefighters had to use hydraulic extrication tools to remove him from the wreckage, but they said that Boone’s injuries did not appear to be serious.
The accident, which occurred shortly before 3 p.m. as students were being dropped off, caused some tense moments for bus driver Becky Underhill and Nicole Johnson, whose 8-year-old son, Samuel Johnson, was stepping off the bus when the collision occurred.
Underhill said that the child had one foot on the bus’s bottom step and the other on the ground when the bus was hit.
“I saw his backpack laying on the ground. I expected to see him under the bus,” she said.
The impact, however, threw the youth away from the bus and onto the ground, where he rolled several times before coming to a stop near his driveway.
Johnson said that although he was a little shaken, her son otherwise was all right.
“He’s fine — he just scraped his knee,” she said. “He’s like, ‘I can’t wait to call my friends.’”
Johnson said she was inside her Route 15 home when she heard the crash. Her husband, Ken Hamilton, was on the telephone. Johnson, who is a certified nurse’s aide, said she told Hamilton to call 911 and rushed outside to see if anyone needed help.
Johnson said Boone was conscious and able to speak when she saw him.
She said she was relieved that the accident did not turn out worse, “Just as long as he [Samuel] is OK and the poor gentleman who was driving the car is OK.”
After police gathered information from the 12 kindergartners through second-graders who remained on the bus, the children were transferred to another bus and taken home, according to Underhill.
Corinth Fire Chief Scott Bragdon estimated that Boone was traveling about 45 mph when he struck the back end of the bus and said it did not appear that Boone had applied his brakes.
The impact was such that the entire front end of Boone’s silver 2002 Buick LeSabre was wedged under the back end of the bus up to the windshield.
Sgt. Scott Young of the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Department said deputies who investigated the crash believe that the glare caused by the sun on Boone’s windshield was a factor in the accident.
Young said that Boone was wearing a seat belt when the accident happened. Bragdon said that Boone’s injuries likely weren’t worse because his air bag deployed.
The Corinth accident was one of several dozen that area law enforcement agencies had to contend with Wednesday.
Between the hours of 4 a.m. and 7:30 p.m., dispatchers at the Penobscot Regional Communications Center in Bangor fielded 48 calls regarding traffic accidents. None, however, resulted in serious injury.