HINESVILLE, Ga. (AP) — A school bus driver lost control and smashed into a tree Tuesday, killing a 5-year-old girl and sending 21 other children to hospitals, police said.
The crash happened on a foggy morning just before 7 a.m. as the bus driver was taking students to Taylors Creek Elementary School in Liberty County, home to sprawling Army post Fort Stewart and located about 50 miles southwest of Savannah.
It’s too soon for investigators to know if the 62-year-old driver, who also was hospitalized, will face any charges, said Lt. Thornell King of the Georgia State Patrol. King said video from a security camera on the bus showed her struggling with the gear shift right before the crash.
“The driver, she made a right-hand turn and she hit a bump, probably a roadside ditch,” King said. “After she hit the bump, you can clearly see on the video her struggling with the gear shift as if to put the bus in park or trying to slow it down.”
King said it did not appear on the video that the driver was accelerating at high speed, and he said it was possible that “something malfunctioned” on the bus.
King identified the girl killed in the crash as 5-year-old Cambria Shuman. He said the girl had been sitting in one of the front-row passenger seats. The bus had no seat belts.
The impact trapped the driver in the crushed front section of the bus. She was taken to a Savannah hospital after being freed by emergency responders. Her condition wasn’t known immediately, but King said she had been conscious and talking with school officials.
The other 21 students on the bus were all taken to hospitals. The State Patrol said in a news release that the impact caused the bus roof to cave in on the young passengers.
“My understanding is the driver had the worst injuries and the others were bumps and scrapes and lacerations,” said Mike Hodges, the Liberty County public safety director.
Hodges confirmed roads had been foggy in the area early Tuesday. But authorities said it was too early to know if weather played a role in the crash.