May 8, 2004 --Posted 10:30 p.m. CDT
Shady Grove, AR -- An 8-vehicle collision, that included three school buses in Poinsett County takes the life of a beloved school bus driver.
The driver killed on Tuesday afternoon is Emmett Dale Panckey of Trumann. The accident happened while Panckey was driving his school bus to Central Elementary School in Shady Grove. There were no children on the buses involved.
Panckey died on the way to Regional Medical Center in Jonesboro. He was a veteran bus driver, and a janitor at First Baptist Church in Trumann.
Trumann Superintendent Joe Waleszonia says Panckey was a jovial easy-going individual that just liked life.
Corporal Chuck Wilson with the Arkansas State Police says since he's been in Poinsett County this is the worst accident he's ever seen.
Wilson says a dust storm off the fields is to blame for the accident that involved 3 buses and 5 vehicles. Witnesses say it almost looked like a tornado and the low visibility caused the vehicles to collide.
"One of the school bus drivers said the dust came completely inside the vehicle, and completely obscured her vision," said Wilson.
Officials say they were able to quickly transport all 7 victims to hospitals in Jonesboro, although an air-evac team was not able to fly in the windy conditions.
As for the residents in Trumann, they say they're shocked to have lost a man the kids loved.
"It's a loss and everybody deals with sorrow in their own way, and it will be a loss to our community and our school system," said Waleszonia.