LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — Mud littered the road along Ky. 1394 after a school bus ran off the narrow roadway and traveled more than 100 feet in a steep ditchline Tuesday afternoon.
Tears blurred the eyes of many North Laurel Middle School students after the accident left several with minor injuries and all the children with a traumatic memory of their drive home from school.
The school bus, driven by 47-year-old Cleve Angel of Lily, was leading several other buses transporting students from NLMS to Hazel Green Elementary when it met another bus traveling eastbound on Ky. 1394.
“The front wheel went off the pavement and forced the bus off the road,” said Laurel County School Superintendent Dr. Doug Bennett. “As a safety precaution, five students were transported to the hospital to be examined for any possible injuries.”
Claude Maggard, Laurel County transportation director, said the accident occurred when Angel tried to move over on the roadway when meeting the other bus.
“He just moved over to avoid hitting mirrors with the other bus and went over about six inches too far,” Maggard said. “That is a narrow road with no shoulder and that’s all it took for the bus to drop off the road into a two-foot deep ditch. He (Angel) is a newly hired substitute driver and had never driven that route before.”
The distress call spurred both Hazel Green and North Laurel Middle School officials to action. Within minutes, Hazel Green Principal Chad Mullins was on the scene with a teacher and the two immediately began checking the students for injuries and writing down the names of the 52 children aboard the bus.
Minutes later, NLMS Principal Steve Morris and Assistant Principal Frank Wilkerson were also at the scene, joined by Bennett, Maggard and Finance Director Jim Kennedy.
Emergency workers also made a quick arrival to the scene. Members of Ambulance Inc. of Laurel County checked the students who complained of injuries and helped calm many of those who were near hysteria after their bumpy ride along the ditchline near Murray Cemetery Road. Laurel County Sheriff’s officials blocked the roadway and directed traffic while interviewing witnesses to the accident.