Thursday, May 18, 2017

Hit-and-run crash causes Lancaster Mennonite school bus to overturn, injuring 15 students, 1 critical, in East Lampeter Township, PA

LINDSEY BLEST | Staff Writer
May 17, 2017 Updated May 17, 2017

Police say more than a dozen people were injured after a hit-and-run driver caused a four-vehicle crash involving a Lancaster Mennonite school bus Wednesday morning in East Lampeter Township.

East Lampeter Township Police Chief John Bowman said 14 students and the bus driver were taken to Lancaster General Hospital. The driver of another car was also injured.

Lancaster General Health spokeswoman Mary Ann Eckard said students taken to LGH were between the ages of 7 and 16.

Eckard said three students were trauma patients and the rest of the injuries were minor.

Just before noon, Eckard said 12 students, the bus driver and the driver of another vehicle were discharged from LGH.

An 8-year-old boy is "very seriously hurt," district attorney's office spokesman Brett Hambright said late Wednesday afternoon.

The boy was airlifted from Lancaster General Hospital to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

Another student was transferred to Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Eckard said. That child's condition was not available.

The crash happened just before 8 a.m. on Lincoln Highway East just east of Route 896, according to Bowman.

Police described the accident as a hit-and-run and are looking for the driver of the car that left the scene.

Bowman described the car as a white sedan, possibly newer, with front end damage. Bowman said the male driver has short hair. Police have no license plate information.

"There’s a very good possibility that this vehicle, as it was traveling eastbound prior to the accident scene, may have been passing other vehicles," Bowman said.

Bowman said the eastbound car tried to pass a tractor-trailer carrying an over-sized load and the rig's escort car, also traveling east. It hit the escort car and set off a "chain-reaction accident," Bowman said.

The escort car hit the tractor-trailer and then the westbound school bus, he said. The impact caused the bus to roll, pinning one child underneath, officials said.

The bus was carrying 12 high school students, one middle school student and one Locust Grove elementary student, according to Lancaster Mennonite spokesman Gary Hiller.

The students had been picked up at four locations in Chester County, and the bus was going to drop them off at the main campus at 2176 Lincoln Highway East, about a mile from the accident.

Police said late Wednesday afternoon they were continuing to search for the driver of the sedan and said they will provide an update on the investigation Thursday morning. Anyone with information should contact East Lampeter Township police at 717-291-4676.

An email describing the crash was sent to Lancaster Mennonite school parents, Hiller said.

"Our focus has been on the physical and emotional well-being of our students rather than the cause and who is responsible," Hiller said. "We express concern for the two who are still in the hospital."


6-year-old boy 'struggling for his life' after school bus crash; police searching for driver

15 students hospitalized after school bus crash in Pa.

Police near Lancaster, Pennsylvania, are searching for a driver who authorities say set in motion a crash that tipped a school bus on its side, sending 16 people to the hospital and leaving a 6-year-old boy "struggling for his life." 

Police said four vehicles were involved in the Wednesday morning crash: a tractor trailer, an escort vehicle for the tractor trailer, the missing car and the school bus. 

Police said the unknown driver hit the back of the escort vehicle in East Lampeter Township, about 65 miles west of Philadelphia. The escort vehicle was then pushed into another lane, side-swiping the school bus. 

The collision tipped the bus on to its side and trapped one student underneath; the student was transported to the hospital via helicopter, police said.
PHOTO: Students and a bus driver were hospitalized after a school bus crashed in East Lampeter Township , Pa., May 17, 2017.WPVI
Students and a bus driver were hospitalized after a school bus crashed in East Lampeter Township , Pa., May 17, 2017.
Fourteen students, the school bus driver and the driver of the escort vehicle were hospitalized, a Lancaster General Hospital spokesperson said. Both adults and 12 of the students have since been released, a hospital spokesperson said today. 

The remaining two students have been transferred to other hospitals for further treatment. 

A 6-year-old boy is considered a critical patient with serious injuries, officials said. While the patient had "some improvement," Lancaster County District Attorney's Office spokesman Brett Hambright said this morning the boy is still "struggling for his life." 

A 16-year-old boy is expected to be released from the hospital today, officials added.
PHOTO: Students and a bus driver were hospitalized after a school bus crashed in East Lampeter Township , Pa., May 17, 2017.WPVI
Students and a bus driver were hospitalized after a school bus crashed in East Lampeter Township , Pa., May 17, 2017.
Police are looking for the missing driver who "essentially set this crash into motion," Hambright said. 

The missing car appears to be a light-colored sedan, possibly a white Chevrolet Malibu, Hambright said. The front of the vehicle could be damaged, he noted, adding that the car may also have driver's side damage. Surveillance video from a business captured an image of what is believed to be the wanted car.
Hambright said authorities want to speak with the driver. 

"That side of the story is very important to us," East Lampeter Township Police Chief John Bowman said. "It's pretty much all hands on deck to locate the vehicle and hopefully have a conversation with the driver." 

Bowman said the police department has received a large number of tips and he encouraged anyone with information to come forward. 

The students involved in the crash were from the Lancaster Mennonite School, police said. 

The Lancaster Mennonite School said in a statement on Facebook this morning, "Thank you for your prayers as our school community continues to heal, physically and emotionally, from Wednesday’s bus accident." 

"Several pastors are at the Locust Grove Campus today having prayer with the students," the school said. "School is operating normally, although prayer and support will be infused throughout the day. School counselors are available, as always, to help in times of crisis."