Exec: Trucker in school bus crash was lost

A school bus driver died and 6 others were hurt in Locust Valley after an out-of-control cement truck hit the bus head-on Monday afternoon, police said. Videojournalist: Jim Staubitser, Howard Schnapp, News 12 and Alex VanSantvoord (July 23, 2012)

The president of a Lindenhurst cement mixing company said his driver "took a wrong turn on the wrong road" before slamming into a school bus on Oyster Bay Road and killing its driver, identified Tuesday as Jorge Guevara of Locust Valley.

"He probably lost his way and ended up there," said Antonio L. Nicolia, president of Nicolia Ready Mix, of the driver, whose name has not been released. "It wasn't the route he took to go up there."

All five of the bus passengers, one adult and four elementary school children, were injured when the out-of-control truck, heading east on Oyster Bay Road, crashed into the school bus, traveling west, police said. It happened near the LIRR overpass on the Matinecock-Locust Valley border.

The truck driver, who also was injured, has not been charged with a crime, said Insp. Kenneth Lack, a Nassau police spokesman. "At this time, he's just an accident victim," he said.

Guevara, 45, was driving the children home from a day camp run by Oyster Bay Town's Group Activities Program at the Syosset-Woodbury Community Park. The truck driver, who had delivered concrete mix to a job site, was heading back to the company's yard in Westbury, Nicolia said.

The truck driver didn't realize that the 2003 Oshkosh cement mixer -- about 13 feet high -- was too tall to fit beneath the overpass, Nicolia said.

The overpass has a clearance of 10 feet, 1 inch, police said. He tried to stop the vehicle but the barrel, empty at the time, struck the overpass and was knocked off the truck, police said.

"The force needed to dislodge a barrel of a truck that size was substantial," said Lack.

Police said Guevara also swerved in an attempt to get out of the truck's way but there was little space on the two-lane road.

It's not yet known whether the truck driver was speeding, Lack said. Whether speed and other factors, such as alcohol, drugs and mechanical failure, contributed to the crash are under investigation, he said.

An employee with the cement mixing company spoke with the driver, who said he was not speeding at the time of the crash, Nicolia said. The driver, Nicolia said, has had a clean driving record for the four years he has worked for the company. He has passed all random drug and alcohol tests during that time, Nicolia said. "This is his first accident with the company," he said.

Guevara's family could not be reached Tuesday to comment. The Locust Valley school district said Guevara worked as one of its bus drivers for six years.

Both Nicolia and the Locust Valley schools superintendent extended their sympathy to Guevara's family and others involved in the crash. "We send our sincere sympathy to Mr. Guevara's family and friends during this difficult time," Superintendent Anna Hunderfund said.

With Marina Villeneuve

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