Mount Vernon school buses involved in crash

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HANCOCK COUNTY - Thirty students were taken to the hospital after a crash involving two school buses with the Mount Vernon Community School Corporation.

Two buses were involved in the crash near Mount Comfort at 600 North and Rockingham Lane. About 100 students were on the buses at the time of the crash. Medics were attending to several students at the scene of the crash. Most had bumps and bruises, but the extent of student injuries is still being assessed.

"We transported 35 away from here to the hospital," said Chief Dave Sutherlin, Buck Creek Fire Department.

Buses 12 and 26 were involved. Reports from the scene indicate that a car making a left turn may have stopped abruptly on the way into a subdivision, prompting a chain reaction crash. The driver of the second bus was distracted by a student who was standing up and was looking in the rear view mirror when the second bus rear-ended the first bus, which had stopped abruptly because of the passenger car.

"The rear bus had a distraction with some students at the back of the vehicle, said something to them," said Capt. Robert Campbell, Hancock County Sheriff's Department.

But by the time she turned back to see the road, she was almost on top of the bus in front and couldn't stop.

"She shouldn't have been scolding the child, she should have been paying attention to the road. She should have stopped," said mother Steph Coffman.

Carla Donaldson came to the scene to check on her daughter, who had a sore neck and learned about the distracted driver.

"Anything's possible. School's almost out, they're excited," she said.

Hancock Regional Hospital was preparing for up to 30 patients being transported to their facility for check-out. The hospital has brought in extra staff to help with the injured students, and they've set up a special area where the families of injured students are waiting.

"Bumped heads, neck pain, shoulder pain," said Chief Sutherlin.

Brendem O'Bryhim was taken out of the bus on a stretcher.

"Like my chin, where they put all the glue," he said.

At first, he thought he had only a busted lip.

"It didn't really hurt at all. It only hurt when I was in the ambulance," O'Bryhim said. "And I was the last one out, because I didn't think I was hurt that bad, so I let everyone else go and when I got into the ambulance, I could actually start feeling things."

O'Bryhim was one of nine students taken to Hancock Regional Hospital.

"Everybody was yelling and screaming. It was complete chaos," said Kaiden Bates.

The worst part, according to some of the students, was seeing their bus driver.

"[I] feel sorry for the bus driver. She kind of got trapped between her seat and the steering wheel," said another student.

Chopper 13 followed Bates as a firefighter walked him to an ambulance. He said the crash slammed him into the seat in front of him.

"I was sitting comfortable and I hit my head on the seat and bent my foot," Bates said.

The doctor told him to take it easy for the rest of the week and expect some pains and bruises in the morning.

"It still hurts a little bit, but I'm alright," Bates said.

Fifth-grader Justice Boyle was checked out for back pain at the hospital.

"I flew forward and flew back and then hit my head," he said.

Boyle told Eyewitness News he would not be riding the bus the rest of the week. He is fine physically, but a little scared.

"Because I could smell smoke. I think the bus driver was unconscious. I'm not sure," he said.

Noblesville, Fishers and Indianapolis all sent emergency units to assist Hancock County. The students on the bus were from the high school, intermediate and middle schools (5th-12th grade).

Both bus drivers were tested for alcohol, as per regulations, but those tests came back negative.

Police will investigate the mechanical systems of the bus. No citations have been issued at this point.