Driver dies, 3 pupils seriously hurt when trailer slams into schoolbus


A trailer carrying a farm tractor that came loose from the truck towing it slammed into a Montgomery County school bus yesterday, killing the bus driver and seriously injuring three of the 36 elementary school pupils on board, county police said.

The school bus was traveling along rain-slick Muncaster Mill Road in Derwood, north of Rockville, about 3: 30 p.m. when a truck pulling a trailer with a John Deere farm tractor and seed planter on top of it traveling in the opposite direction lost control and jacknifed, county police said. The trailer became disconnected and crashed head-on into the bus.

The driver of the school bus, Andre King, 33, of Laurel, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Three of the pupils were trapped briefly in the school bus and had to be freed by firefighters. The three -- two 5-year-old girls and an 11-year-old girl -- were airlifted to the Children's Hospital in Washington, where they were being treated for serious injuries, police said.

One 5-year-old girl was listed in critical condition, and the other two girls were in serious condition.

The truck driver, William Thornton Patton Jr., 30, of Silver Spring, and one pupil were taken to Shady Grove Hospital, where they were treated for minor injuries.

The other pupils, who were going home from Mill Creek Towne Elementary School at the time of the accident, were taken by another bus to Shady Grove Hospital, where they were reunited with their parents. Counselors from the Montgomery County government and the school board were available at the hospital to speak with the pupils, police said.

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