W.Va. driver is charged in bus crash that injured 5 children

October 08, 1997|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

A West Virginia man was charged with several traffic offenses yesterday after police said a sport utility vehicle he was driving hit a school bus near Camden Yards, causing it to overturn and injuring five special education students.

The impact sent the small yellow school bus spinning down West Hamburg Street, witnesses said. It overturned on its side and careened into a parked pickup truck 30 yards south of where the accident occurred, at West Hamburg and South Paca streets.

The five students, who range in age from 5 to 16, two adults on the bus and the minivan driver were treated at University of Maryland Medical Center for minor injuries.

"I heard the impact and I ran down there because I saw the yellow bus," said Bob Bishoff, vice president of Lee Electrical Co. at West Hamburg and Russell streets. "I was concerned because there were kids inside."

Bishoff said he helped rescue some of the children, who sat on a nearby lawn until ambulances arrived. "They would respond when I talked to them," he said. "There was no panic of any kind. They were all lucky. This was nasty."

Agent Ragina L. Cooper, a city police spokeswoman, said the 7: 25 a.m. crash occurred when the driver of a 1995 Nissan Pathfinder traveling north on Paca Street failed to stop at a stop sign and hit the bus. The accident occurred in Pigtown, two blocks from where the new Ravens football stadium is being built. The owner of the parked pickup truck that was hit is a construction worker on the project, police said.

Police identified the Pathfinder driver as Mark Pettitt, 24, of West Virginia. Police gave him traffic citations charging him with failure to stop at a stop sign, having no registration, driving at a speed greater than reasonable, failure to control speed to avoid a collision, and reckless and negligent driving.

The driver of the school bus, owned by Eastman Bus Services, was identified as Howard Williams Spinney, 61, of Baltimore. An adult aide on the bus was identified as 52-year-old Audrey Carey.

Cooper said investigators have not been able to determine how fast the vehicles were traveling. The speed limit in the residential neighborhood is 25 mph.

Two of the students were headed to George Kelson Elementary School in Southwest Baltimore; two were going to George W. F. McMechen Middle and Senior High School in Northwest Baltimore; and one was headed to Matthew A. Henson Elementary School in Northwest Baltimore.

Pub Date: 10/08/97

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