GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — School officials were relieved that only minor injuries occurred after a bus carrying 30 students was involved in an accident Thursday afternoon. It was the second bus accident this week for the school district.
Eighteen students were taken to area hospitals after their bus collided with a sport utility vehicle at Moss Mill and Old Port Republic roads at 3:37 p.m. An Integrity bus driven by Jennifer McDonald, 21, of Egg Harbor City, was leaving Smithville Elementary School and making a left turn onto Moss Mill Road from the stop sign at Old Port Republic Road when it collided with the SUV.
Police Lt. Paul Dooner said the students were taken to the Atlantic City and Galloway campuses of AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center for treatment of minor injuries. The driver of the SUV — whom police did not identify Thursday — was transported to Cooper University Hospital in Camden via helicopter. His condition was not released.
McDonald was not injured, Dooner said.
Superintendent Annette Giaquinto said dozens of staff members from the school — located just down Old Port Republic Road — rushed to the scene to assist the children and contact all of their parents.
Dozens of police, fire and emergency workers were on the scene. Giaquinto praised the school staff and emergency personnel for how they worked with the children.
On Monday, a bus from Arthur Rann Elementary School was involved in a collision. Police said Christopher Laporte, 52, was driving an Integrity school bus carrying five children when he failed to yield at a stop sign and struck another vehicle on Mannheim Avenue and Herschel Street.
Two children on the bus suffered minor facial/head injuries and were taken to a local hospital, police said. All of the other children were released to their parents at the scene.
Giaquinto said Thursday that she already had talked to officials from Integrity, which the district hires to transport the students, about reviewing the routes to make them safer. She said she expects to have follow-up discussions with the company.
“Every procedure we needed to follow was followed,” she said.
Counselors will be available at the school today to talk to the students and staff, she said.
Mayor Don Purdy said the township is “very blessed” the accident was not worse.
“For what it could have been and what it is, someone was looking over (the children),” he said.
Contact Joel Landau: