More than two dozen Anne Arundel County middle-school pupils and a bus driver were taken to local hospitals complaining of injuries after two school buses collided in Glen Burnie yesterday afternoon in what officials said was the county's worst bus crash in two decades.
The buses were traveling in the 1900 block of Old Stage Road about 4 p.m. when one swerved and the other struck it from behind, police said. About 50 pupils were riding the buses home from Old Mill Middle School-South, county fire officials said.
Twenty-six boys and girls, mostly ages 12 or 13, and the driver of the second bus were taken to the hospitals to be examined for possible neck, back and head injuries, said Fire Division Chief John M. Scholz, a department spokesman. None of the injuries was considered life-threatening, he said.
Police are investigating the the crash, which required temporary closure of Old Stage Road. The drivers of both buses and a car involved in the incident were to be interviewed by police.
The driver of the first bus, Anna Greenway of Severn, said she was driving toward the Glen Burnie Park neighborhood on the narrow, two-lane road when a maroon sedan - driven by Thema Asken of Glen Burnie - stopped suddenly in front of her bus.
"I swerved to the right," Greenway said. In the next instant, Greenway said, she felt a powerful crash and turned around to see her rear window was cracked. She was not injured.
The bus that struck Greenway's from the rear - driven by Christina Bowman - received the most damage: the front windshield was shattered and the headlights and door were cracked. Both buses were owned by R.E. Wilson & Sons, a Crownsville school bus contractor.
"My girls all sit in the back," Greenway said, adding that she usually asks boys and girls to sit separately to avoid disturbances. "I told them to get checked out" at hospitals.
Most of the children taken to the hospital were riding in the second bus, according to school officials.
As word of the crash began to spread, about a dozen worried parents and the school's principal rushed to the site.
Principal Catherine Gilbert said some children were concerned about friends who may have been injured, but mainly stayed calm. "They needed a hug or a handshake or a pat on the back," Gilbert said.
The children were taken to North Arundel Hospital, Anne Arundel Medical Center and Harbor Hospital in Baltimore.
Winship Wheatley, the Anne Arundel County school system's transportation supervisor, said the school buses are equipped with high-backed, well-padded seats to minimize injuries during collisions. The buses do not have seatbelts.