Two adults and a child were killed and two other people were critically injured today when two cars crashed in the northbound lanes of I-95 near the off-ramp to Aberdeen, officials said.
A greater tragedy was averted, an official said, when a bus
carrying 31 junior high school students from California swerved to avoid the crashed automobiles and rumbled nearly 100 feet down the gentle slope of a grassy embankment and stayed upright.
One of the students was injured when he broke his ankle.
"The bus driver did an outstanding job not hitting those cars and then keeping the bus upright when it went off the right shoulder and down the embankment," said Chief Michael E. Bennett of the Aberdeen Volunteer Fire Department.
The identities of the dead were not known but they were believed to have been passengers in one of the cars.
One of the dead was a child about 3.
"The child was on the roadway when we first arrived about 11 a.m.," said Bennett, who was on the first fire engine that responded to the wreck.
"That child was in cardiac arrest when we tended to it and the victim was taken to Harford Memorial Hospital," Bennett said.
A spokeswoman at the Shock-Trauma Unit in Baltimore said two State Police Med-Evac helicopters flew two of the victims, both believed to have been the drivers of the cars, to the unit, where they were described in critical condition.
Laura Elliott, the spokeswoman, said one of the victims was a black male, the other a white male. No identities were available.
The details on the crash were not being released by State Police on the scene.
A trooper at the John F. Kennedy Highway barracks said the bus carried 31 students from Holy Cross Junior High School in Santa Cruz, Calif.
He said the bus was bound to Philadelphia from Washington on an Easter tour when it suddenly veered to the right to avoid colliding with the cars that crashed.
Sarah Bolton, 13, of Santa Cruz, said, "I was asleep when we went off the road. I saw something fly by the window."
Another student, Michael Riese, 13, said the unidentified bus driver "did a great job. At first I thought we were going to tip over."
All of the students and the driver left the bus by the emergency windows because the doors were blocked by small trees, Riese said.
On Friday, five people were killed when their two vehicles crashed on rain-slick I-95 near Perryville in Cecil County.
State Police said the accident occurred about 3:20 p.m. when the driver of a Pontiac lost control of the car. The vehicle jumped from the southbound lanes of the highway onto a median strip and crossed into the northbound lanes and hit a Toyota 4-Runner truck.
The occupants of the Pontiac, Jonah Weinstein, 25, of Lakewood, N. J., and his 21-year-old wife Yehudis were killed.
Also, the crash took the lives Manuel Mendes, 34, his wife Maria, 33, and her mother, Maria Do Santos, 69, of Wheaton. The couple's young children, Luciana, 3, and Daniel, 3, survived the accident and were listed in good condition at University Hospital in Baltimore.