School Bus Crash Sends 9 to Area Hospitals

October 10, 2006 -- Posted at 10:06 p.m. CDT

LAWRENCE COUNTY, AR -- Those at the scene of a school bus accident in Lawrence County say the passengers on the Hillcrest School Bus are lucky to be alive.

"We had sixteen students on the bus plus the driver.  Eight of the students were transported by ambulance and the driver.  Seven went to Lawrence Memorial in Walnut Ridge and one went to the Pocahontas Medical Center," said Hillcrest Superintendent Greg Crabtree.

The children are being treated from everything from scrapes and cuts to head injuries and broken bones.  However, officials are making it clear that none of the injuries are life threatening.

State police officers spoke with the bus driver before he was taken to the hospital and believe they have pieced together what happened.

"He was distracted by some students and looked in the mirror to deal with them.  He drove over the shoulder and on to the right and overcorrected.  He came back across the center line and flipped over hitting a telephone pole," said State Trooper Phillip Roark.

The 911 dispatch center received phone calls from students calling from their cell phones on board the bus.

One of those students was 14-year-old Jeremy Lovelady, whose mom says he has some bruised ribs and a possibly broken ankle.

"He called my cell phone and told me he had been in an accident.  I'm a nurse at the nursing home here at the hospital, and I was on my way to the accident to see if I could help and then he called me and told me he was in it," said parent Rhonda Harper.

Parents of the children involved arrived immediately on the scene to check on their children.

"They let me in because I am a nurse and he was asking for me.  The bus is totaled.  The front is smashed, the back is smashed... they're lucky that they got out," said Harper.

Those not taken to the hospital were released to their parents.

The driver of the bus is 48-year-old Danny Foley of Smithville, who himself had to be cut out of the bus by rescuers.

Hillcrest School District Superintendent Greg Crabtree is just thankful everyone is all right.

"The good Lord took care of us," said Crabtree.

Many parents of children involved in the accident told K8 news that they are very proud of their children.  Many of the older kids helped the younger children get out of the bus.  The ages of the children on the bus ranged from age 5 to age 16.