Bus collision 'could have been a lot worse'

Two school buses, one of them carrying Chaminade Two school buses, one of them carrying Chaminade High School students, collided Friday morning in Rockville Centre at the intersection of Hempstead Avenue and Richmond Road, Rockville Centre fire department officials said. (June 8, 2012) Photo Credit: Lou Minutoli

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Four middle school students escaped serious injury on a Rockville Centre street corner Friday morning when two school buses collided, sending one bus veering toward them as they ran to safety, a school official said.

The approaching bus came to rest on the sidewalk atop a crumpled brick-column lightpost on Richmond Road at Hempstead Avenue where the four Southside Middle School students had been standing, said Robert Bartels, the Rockville Centre schools assistant superintendent.

One of the four, a 12-year-old girl, tripped and skinned her knee as she escaped, Rockville Centre Village spokesman Jeff Kluewer said.

"It could have been a lot worse," said Rockville Centre Mayor Francis Murray, one of several village and school officials who came to the accident scene.

The bus had been en route to Chaminade High School with nine students on board when it was hit by another bus, slightly injuring both drivers, village and school officials said.

None of the students on the Chaminade bus was injured in the 7:25 a.m. collision, Kluewer said. The second bus had no passengers.

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No traffic citations had been issued as of Friday morning, the schools spokesman said.

The Chaminade students' parents were notified and picked them up from the accident scene and took them to school, where a nurse examined them, Brother Thomas Cleary, president of Chaminade, said.

"The most important thing is, thank God, no one was hurt, except for the girl who hurt her knee," Cleary said.

Some of the students had been anxious about getting to school on time, despite the accident, because they were scheduled to take final exams Friday, Cleary said.

One bus had been heading north on Hempstead Avenue, while the Chaminade bus was eastbound on Arrandale Road. Bartels said the eastbound bus was hit as it crossed Hempstead Avenue. He said it was struck on the passenger side, near the door, and the impact broke windows and sent the bus onto the sidewalk.

The woman driving the Atlantic Express bus carrying the students was taken to Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow, as a precaution. The man driving the other bus was taken to South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside, also as a precaution, Rockville Centre fire chief John Busching said.

"Everybody's a bit shaken up, but fine," Atlantic Express spokeswoman Carolyn Daly said. "Both drivers have excellent driving records."

The company planned to interview the two drivers, and it sent its safety director to the accident scene.

"I've been with the company 18 years, and this has never happened before," Daly said. "We've never had two of our own buses collide like this."

Police said Friday that the accident was being investigated.

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With Jim Staubitser

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