Clyde-Savannah School Bus with 37 students onboard rams into the back of snowplow
Twenty-three injured, bus driver, two students still hospitalized
It is tough enough handling a 37 foot, 29,760 pound vehicle with a load of hyper elementary students, imagine doing so with slippery road conditions and sun glare to deal with.
Police believe Clyde-Savannah Central School District bus driver, Ruth Y. David, age 48, headed eastbound on Route 31, may have temporarily lost sight of a Town of Savannah plow/salt truck. The plow was stopped on Route 31, after it had slowed down to turn onto Hogback Road in the Town of Savannah. The snowplow, which was operated by Terry R. O’Connor, age 55, was making a right turn onto Hogback Road at the time of the collision. O’Connor was not injured in the crash. The school bus was enroute to the Clyde Savannah Middle School with approximately 37 students on board.
The resulting crash, just before 8:00 a.m. on Thursday, pushed the front of the bus into the first row of seats. Three students were severely injured, as well as the bus driver. Ruth (Nina) David, who has been driving for the District since 2006. Two students were trapped after the collision, and the driver was trapped for more than an hour. They were extricated by members of the Savannah and Clyde Fire Departments. Ten student occupants were transported to Newark Wayne Hospital by ambulance. David and one of the trapped students were flown by Mercy Flight Helicopter to Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse, with what deputies say are non-life-threatening injuries. An eleven-year-old suffered two broken legs, a broken arm and is undergoing surgery at this time. David was initially listed in critical condition, but her condition was downgraded to serious by Thursday night.
Newark-Wayne Community Hospital, initiated a “Disaster – Code Yellow” status at approximately 8:45 a.m. In total, the Hospital’s Emergency Department and Disaster Team, in cooperation with Wayne County Emergency Medical Services, cared for 21 children between 10 – 12 years of age. Two children were transferred via Mercy Flight to Strong Memorial Hospital in “critical” condition; 16 children were “treated and released”; and three were still being evaluated and are in “satisfactory” condition.
The bus was one of three shuttle buses that pick up Clyde students who attend the Savannah schools. It takes students who reside in Clyde from the elementary school there to the school in Savannah, which houses fifth and sixth graders. It is believed that all of the students on the bus were in sixth grade; the fifth graders were traveling in a bus behind Bus 97 at the time of the collision. They were transferred to the bus and transported to the Savannah Elementary School where they were triaged and reunited with parents.
Dr. Theresa Pulos, Superintendent of Schools for the Clyde-Savannah District said that she was notified of the bus accident on Thursday while she was driving on the Thruway. She was notified by the Assistant Superintendent for Business, Cathy Milliman, who had been contacted by the Director of Transporation, Betty Robinson. It took Pulos approximately 20 minutes to arrive at the scene, but she said she knew that the people with the expertise were on the scene taking care of what needed to be done. Dr. Pulos visited the children at the hospitals later in the day to learn of their progress and she also contacted the parents later than evening to talk and reassure them. “The response from the school nurses, District Office staff, teachers and clerical staff was wonderful”, said Dr. Pulos. “Everyone had their job to do, and the way the parents were notified, was so well done. Everyone stepped up.”
According to the District, mandated bus training involves 30 hours of instruction and a 3-hour preparatory test, plus annual refresher training of 2 hours every September and 2 hours every January. The District Transportation Director also adds additional training and testing for the district.
The Sheriff’s Office was assisted at the scene by members of the New York State Police, Clyde Village Police Department, New York State DOT, Wayne County Advanced Life Support and ambulances from Lyons, Rose, North Rose, Wolcott, South Butler and Red Creek.