School bus driver charged in accident with log truck

School bus driver in accident with log truck

JONES COUNTY - A Duplin County school bus driver is facing charges after an early morning crash with a log truck. The wreck happened just before 6 a.m. on Highway 41 in Jones County.
Duplin County Schools officials say the wreck happened at the beginning of this particular buses route with two students on board.  The bus was attempting to make a U-turn on the highway when, at the same time, a log truck was attempting to pass it. Both vehicles ended up in a ditch.

"I just felt that huge impact. My head hit the window, I went dizzy, blacked out for four or five seconds," recalled East Duplin High School freshman, Steven Murphy. He was one of the two students on the bus. It was his first time riding the school bus this year.

"When he tried to pass us he sped up a little bit so he hit us pretty hard. You're just surprised that the bus didn't tip with all that power going toward one side," said Murphy.

The 14-year-old says he was sitting right where the truck made impact. He walked away from the crash. Murphy says after the wreck the bus filled with smoke. He says the other student on the bus, a young girl, had an asthma attack. He also said the bus driver hurt her shoulder. Officials say both were taken to Vidant Duplin Hospital with minor injuries.

The Duplin County school bus was just over the county line in Jones County when the wreck happened. School officials say the driver was following proper protocol in being over the county line.

"The bus is assigned to travel into Jones County and make the turn and then come back into Duplin County. This was just a very unfortunate accident," said Dawn Craft, Duplin County Schools spokeswoman.

Murphy says he's thankful the accident wasn't any worse.

"I feel blessed. I feel like God was there with me."

Duplin county school officials say while evaluating bus routes before the school year started, it was determined that crossing the county line to make that U-turn was the safest route for the safety of students who catch the bus in that area. The school bus driver, Susan Chestnutt, has been charged by the highway patrol with an unsafe movement violation.

PREVIOUS STORY: A crash between a Duplin County school bus and a log truck injured a student and the bus driver Wednesday morning.

The crash happened on Highway 41 in the Potters Hill area in Jones County, near the Duplin County line, at about 5:50 a.m. Wednesday.

(CLICK HERE: Photos of the damage on the school bus.)

According to the Highway Patrol, the school bus --heading to East Duplin High School-- was turning into a driveway while the log truck was attempting to pass the bus. But the log truck hit the bus as it was turning into the driveway. Troopers said the preliminary investigation showed the school bus driver was at fault.

Two students were riding in the bus at the time. One student suffered minor injuries while the other was not hurt, according to a release from Duplin County Schools. The bus driver also suffered minor injuries. They were treated at Vidant Duplin Hospital.

Duplin County Schools Superintendent Austin Obasohan said the following in a statement:

"We are very proud of our Transportation Department and all of our bus drivers under the strong leadership of Executive Director Jeff Thigpen. They have all been trained on safety measures and they will do anything possible to make sure our children are safe. We are blessed and so thankful to God the students and the driver are going to be fine."

The log truck driver was not hurt, troopers said.

There is no word on charges.

Main photo credit: Jones County Sheriff Danny Heath.

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