Fourteen students from the Gloucester County Institute of Technology were hospitalized after the bus they were in collided with a tractor trailer in Gloucester County, New Jersey on Monday, January 7th, 2019. The driver of the tractor trailer was critically injured and taken to Crozer Chester Medical Center to be treated.
Authorities say the accident occurred at the intersection of Ferrell Road and Monroeville Road in South Harrison Township at around 3:30 p.m. The bus, which was carrying 22 students, was traveling west on Ferrell and stopped at a stop sign. The bus then “attempted to make a left-hand turn and collided with the tanker truck that was headed west on Monroeville,” according to South Harrison Township Police Lieutenant Sean Weston.
The driver of the tractor trailer hit the rear left portion of the bus before crashing into a thicket of trees on the side of the road, where the truck overturned and lay on its side. This overturn caused the truck to leak diesel fuel onto the roadway, and the Gloucester County Haz-Mat Assessment Unit was called in.
Police said that the bus driver must not have seen the tanker truck or did not realize the truck had the right of way. Authorities have since announced that the bus driver will face citations for his role in the crash.
For his part, the driver of the tractor trailer, who is employed by the Herrell Trucking Company, is being lauded for his quick thinking and reflexes after he narrowly avoided a head-on collision by swerving right when he saw the bus suddenly attempt the left turn.
“He didn’t want to hit the brakes, so he directed it to the right and into the woods,” said Clinton Herrell, the owner of the company who employed the driver. Herrell reiterated that this unnamed driver has a clean driving record and believes that the man’s actions saved lives.
“He wasn’t worried about himself,” Herrell told NBC New York. “He was worried about the kids on the bus.”
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the friends and family of the students and drivers affected by this accident.
Parents should not have to fear for the safety of their children when they send them off to school. Sadly, there have recently been numerous school bus accidents in New Jersey, such as a July 2018 multi-bus crash that left 24 people injured, or the tragic May 2018 school bus crash in Mount Olive, New Jersey that left two people dead, including a 10-year-old student.
These types of incidents are tragic reminders of the enormous responsibility school bus drivers are entrusted with every day. It goes without saying that these drivers are expected to strictly obey all traffic laws, particularly when they are transporting passengers.
If initial reports that the bus driver failed to yield right of way when turning at the stop sign are correct, it will represent a clear violation of New Jersey traffic statute 39:4-144 which states that a vehicle may proceed past a stop sign “only after yielding the right of way to all vehicular traffic on the intersecting street which is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard.”
When negligent commercial drivers endanger others, especially the people they are tasked with transporting, they must be held accountable for their actions – not just so that the victims of the accident can receive the compensation they deserve, but also to send the message that this type of reckless negligence will not be tolerated.
The experienced personal injury attorneys of Block O’Toole & Murphy have won numerous multi-million dollar results for victims injured in bus accidents, such as:
- $3,450,000 settlement for a man who was struck and dragged by a bus while he crossed the street at a crosswalk
- $3,000,000 settlement for a motorist who was struck by a bus which was attempting to make a left turn without the right of way
- $2,925,000 settlement after a driver in Queens was hit at an intersection by a bus which ran a stop sign
To receive a free legal consultation, call 212-736-5300 and speak with a lawyer who can walk you through the next steps of dealing with the aftermath of a bus accident.