School bus driver killed in Rosedale accident

Boy, 4, and attendant injured as vehicle hits car, utility pole

June 08, 1999|By Dail Willis and Howard Libit | Dail Willis and Howard Libit,SUN STAFF

A veteran school bus driver died yesterday when her small bus veered across a Rosedale street, hitting a car and snapping off a utility pole before wedging between a tree and a front porch.

Killed was Virginia T. Carter, 61, of the 300 block of Blackburn Place in Joppa, police said. Known affectionately as "Miss Virginia" to the hundreds of children she transported during 18 years of driving for Baltimore County, she was the first driver to die on duty since 1992, school officials said.

The crash injured Carter's two passengers. Ryan McCormick, 4, a preschooler at Red House Run Elementary School, was in good condition yesterday afternoon at Johns Hopkins Children's Center, a spokeswoman said. Bus attendant Ethel Reinhart, 62, was in fair condition at the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, according to a spokeswoman.

Carter was driving west in the 6200 block of Golden Ring Road about 12: 15 p.m., just before the afternoon preschool session at Red House Run, when the accident occurred within blocks of the school, police said.

"She crossed the center line and hit a red Ford," said Lt. Minda F. Foxwell of the Baltimore County Police Department's Traffic Management Unit. "The bus continued across the center line, went off the roadside and struck a BGE pole, went up into the front yard and struck the tree and the porch of the house. There's no indication of mechanical failure."

Paramedics took two passengers out through the rear emergency exit door, said Fire Department Battalion Chief Mark Hubbard. He said the two passengers complained of neck and back injuries, but were alert and talking when firefighters arrived.

Hubbard said firefighters had great difficulty freeing Carter, who was not wearing a seat belt.

"I saw a person wedged into the door next to the tree," said Charles Paul, 39, who lives nearby and came on the accident moments after it happened. "It just looked awful."

The driver of the Ford LTD Crown Victoria, Barbara Gallup of the 600 block of Haverhill Road in Joppa, was not injured, police said. The bus clipped the rear of the car.

Family and colleagues of Carter, who went to the accident scene yesterday, were shaken.

"She was very well-loved and well-respected," said Rita Fromm, school system transportation director. "She was great to be around, always upbeat and dependable. Everyone knew her and liked her. This is a terrible tragedy."

Three of Carter's sisters huddled together, weeping.

"She was a lovely person," said Doris Myers, one of the sisters.

Carter was divorced and had six children, one of whom is a bus driver for the county school system, Myers said.

She was a longtime member of Shining Star Baptist Church in Middle River, where she grew up, her sisters said, and sang in the choir for many years.

Carter was so popular as a bus driver that her former passengers never forgot her, with many children returning to visit after they graduated from her preschool route, said Red House Run Principal Susan Felts.

"This loss is going to be felt by a lot of students," Felts said. "They all really liked her. Miss Virginia was really good with the children."

Carter also drove routes for Gunpowder and Perry Hall elementary schools, Perry Hall Middle School and Perry Hall High School. Carter's bus was smaller than standard-size school buses, seating 36 children, said Charles A. Herndon, school system spokesman.

Herndon said the five schools were notified of Carter's death, and psychological support services will be available today. At Red House Run, Felts sent home a letter to all families telling them about the accident, but teachers were waiting until today to talk to pupils about the accident because information was incomplete yesterday.

The investigation of the accident is continuing.

School officials said that all bus drivers must pass annual physical exams, and Carter was not known to have any health problems. They also said she had a good driving record with the system.

Pub Date: 6/08/99

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