TOWN OF BATAVIA, NY - "My heart is racing, I'm on the verge of tears, and I feel like I'm gonna throw up," remarked Tracey McGaughney, after witnessing a scary looking accident involving a school bus and a tractor-trailer in front of her home on busy NYS Route 5 on Monday just after noon.
A Pembroke Central School bus, carrying a pre-kindergarten student, was stopped in front of her home preparing to turn left into her driveway to pick up her son for school when it was rear ended by the semi.
""I heard this screeching noise, and I looked up...the bus did a '180' (spun half way around) and flipped on its side into my neighbor's lawn," McGaughney recounted.
When she collected herself, McGaughney raced to the bus, knowing the only passenger usually on board was a pre-kindergarten student, like her son.
"They (students) are not required to be buckled in and I was just afraid that he had flown to the other side and possibly hurt his head or something. So I looked in really quick and he was still in his seat sitting in the same position as if the bus was upright so you could see he was just fine," McGaughney said.
McGaughney said the bus driver, who did not appear injured, was able to unbuckle himself from his seat and lift the child to her through a broken bus window.
"It could have been a lot worse," said East Pembroke Fire Chief Don Newton Jr., who summoned no less than five local fire departments to assist.
"We (also) put Mercy Flight on standby just for the worst case scenario," Newton said.
"When the call came out it came out as a tractor trailer -school bus with the school bus on its side and we didn't know if the school bus was full of young children or not," said Genesee County Sheriff Gary Maha, who also responded to the scene. "So a lot of ambulances and fire personnel were dispatched as a safe guard... you can always turn them back," Maha said.
In the end, only one ambulance was required, and that was to take the child passenger to a Batavia hospital, but only as a precaution according to Maha, who says both the drivers of the school bus and tractor-trailer declined medical attention.
Maha told WGRZ the truck driver would be ticketed for following too closely. In addition, while it appears the trucker had been talking on a cell phone before the collision, Maha said that because it was a hands free device, he would not be cited for that.
Despite the scary scene she witnessed, McGaughney has no qualms about putting her child on the bus tomorrow.
"This sort of thing doesn't happen very often and looks like the bus held up pretty well considering the impact, so it makes you feel pretty good that they (children) are probably pretty safe... I just thank the Lord for his hand of protection," McGaughney said.
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