Chester bus driver seriously injured in crash moments after dropping off children at Middletown private school
A bus driver for the Chester Union Free School District had to be airlifted to the hospital Friday morning after colliding with a tractor-trailer.
The crash happened moments after dropping off children at a private school.
“The day started as any other day,” says Harmony Christian School principal Kevin Barry. “The next thing I know, I saw the collision. It was a tractor-trailer colliding head-on with our school bus.”
Barry, who oversees 173 children at the school in Middletown, says students were still outside when the empty bus was leaving school grounds and the driver was hit turning onto Route 211.
“He was crying in severe pain and part of the dashboard was over his face,” says Barry. “I said, ‘Look at me, you’re going to be OK. Help is coming.’”
State police say the driver, who had to be extricated, was the sole occupant on the bus and was taken by helicopter to Westchester Medical Center with serious injuries.
Barry says he’s been trying to prevent a tragedy like this from happening for years, since another bus driver was killed leaving the school a decade ago in a collision with a garbage truck.
“There’s no one going 55 here,” says Barry. “They’re doing 65 or 70. We watch cars passing cars or buses that are trying to turn into our building.”
The principal of the pre-K through 12 school says he reached out to local and state officials, including the state Department of Transportation, for help. He gave News 12 an email with information from the DOT just days before the crash that shows the state claims the school doesn’t meet the criteria to become a school zone and no safety improvements are needed.
A representative for the DOT says a traffic study was done in 2015 but wouldn’t comment further because of the police investigation into the latest crash.
“Sooner or later, there’s going to be a bus involved with children on it," says Barry. "My question is, who is going to take the blame for that?”
Chester school officials say the driver worked for Student Bus and was on a private run for the district when he was struck, and that their thoughts and prayers are with the driver and his family.