School bus driver cited for crash with van

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 15, 2011

By Nathan Hardin
SALISBURY — A school bus driver was cited after colliding with a day care van Thursday morning while turning from Sherrills Ford Road onto Harrison Road.
According to the N.C. Highway Patrol, bus driver Jawiba Keisu said the steering wheel of the bus locked while making a lefthand turn onto Harrison Road, causing the bus, which was filled with students, to hit the van at about 7:35 a.m.
Trooper James Horton said the woman driving the van, 45-year-old Patricia Reid Smyre, was taken to Rowan Regional Medical Center with neck and back injuries.
Horton said neither the 68-year-old school bus driver nor the students had serious injuries.
“Some of them had scratches on them, but none of them were transported to Rowan Regional Medical Center from the scene,” he said.
Rowan-Salisbury School System spokeswoman Rita Foil said there were seven students on the bus, which serves Salisbury High and Knox Middle schools.
She said parents were contacted, and several came and drove their children to school. Another bus was used to take the remaining students and complete the morning route.
Foil said state and federal laws require drug and alcohol testing anytime a school bus driver receives a citation.
Horton said the school bus malfunction is under investigation.
“The driver of the bus told me that his steering wheel locked to the left while he was attempting to make his left hand turn,” Horton said. “The maintenance guys are checking the bus out today to see what’s wrong with it.”
Horton also added that the steering wheel “seemed to act fine while they were pulling the vehicles apart.”
Amy Cannon, who was stopped in her car at the stop sign at the intersection of Harrison and Sherills Ford, said she thought the bus turned in front of her and lost control on a patch of gravel. She said she didn’t think the bus driver was speeding.
“I think it hit the gravel, and the next thing I know I hear a large crash and the van is getting pushed back like 15 feet at least from me,” Cannon said. Cannon put on her blinkers and said she immediately went to the van to see if the woman driving it was injured.
“Her window was broken and the glass had fallen in on her,” Cannon said. “She seemed really shocked.”
Cannon also checked the bus driver and students, but said they didn’t appear injured.
“I asked the bus driver if he and the kids were OK and he said that they were,” Cannon said. “He was calling the police at the time.”
Cannon said she is still worried about the children involved.
“I’m worried about the kids. They were very shocked, very quiet,” Cannon said. “I know my kids ride Rowan-Salisbury buses, so as a mother I just want to make sure the kids were OK.”