Cops: Driver on drugs hit school bus

A witness to the Central Islip crash between a school mini-bus and a Jeep describes how the bus driver helped get two young passengers in wheelchairs to safety. Videojournalist: James Carbone (Sept. 18, 2013)

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A school bus driver got two children in wheelchairs to safety minutes before the bus -- hit by an impaired driver in a Jeep -- caught fire Wednesday in Central Islip, police said.

Tyajia Anthony, 29, of Central Islip, hit the minibus head-on after crossing the double yellow line as she drove south on Connetquot Avenue near Ridge Avenue, at about 8 a.m., Suffolk police said.

The crumpled front of the SUV burst into flames after the crash, and the fire quickly spread to the side of the bus. There were no serious injuries, according to police.

Saverio De Vivo, who lives near the crash scene, called the bus driver a "hero" for getting the boys out before the fire started.

De Vivo said he was watching television when he heard a loud bang. "My house shook," he said. "I went outside and tried to help out."

De Vivo said he helped comfort the boys, providing them with blankets as police and medics arrived.

The driver of the Suffolk Transportation Service school bus and the four passengers -- two 5-year-old boys and two adult aides -- were taken to Southside Hospital in Bay Shore, police said.

The adults were treated for minor injuries, and the children did not appear to be injured, police said.

Anthony, of 27 E. Cedar St., was charged with driving while ability impaired by drugs and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle. She was being held until her arraignment Thursday, police said.

The bus was providing service to the Association for the Help of Retarded Children-Suffolk, police said.

Suffolk Transportation Service officials could not be reached for comment. The identity of the bus driver was not released.

Connetquot Avenue was closed for hours in both directions between Windsor Place and Bayonne Avenue because of the crash.

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