Latest: 16 students went to hospital after Greene Co. bus crash, no disciplinary action against driver


GREENE COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) – The Tennessee Highway Patrol reported in a preliminary report Tuesday that nine students were transported to the hospital after a Greene County Schools bus crashed. On Wednesday, Director of Schools David McLain said a total of 16 students actually ended up being examined at the hospital.

Three ambulances were utilized to transport the nine students that THP reported to the hospital, while the other students were taken by their parents, according to McLain.

The bus was carrying 26 students when it crashed on Brittontown Road in the Afton area, according to THP. The THP report stated that the bus was attempting to maneuver a left curve in when it went off the road and ultimately flipped onto its side.

McLain previously told News Channel 11 that the students on board were of various ages, ranging from elementary to high school students.

The driver was identified by THP as Lisa Marshall, who McLain said was filling in driving the route and has been volunteering for the position since August. Marshall was not injured in the crash.

THP reported Tuesday that charges in the crash were pending the outcome of the investigation. McLain told News Channel 11 that she was fully qualified for the driver position and has received no disciplinary action from the school system as of Wednesday.

Melody Hicks has two sons in Greene County Schools who typically ride the bus that crashed on Brittontown Road. However, Hicks’ sons were at a tutoring session Tuesday afternoon when the crash occurred.

Hicks said she received a call from the school system telling her where she could pick up her children since they were regular riders.

“I saw two cops and two ambulances going in that direction and I was like, ‘you never see ambulances on my road. I live in the middle of nowhere, you never even see a cop, really.’ And I was kind of [taken] back, and then I got that phone call about five minutes later and I was panicked.”

As of Wednesday, McLain said Marshall was not driving the route, bringing further staffing trouble to what he says is already a serious shortage of bus drivers within the school district.

According to McLain, there are 80 bus routes among Greene County Schools, not all of which are serviceable due to the lack of drivers. The school district has about 10 vacancies for drivers in what McLain says is one of the largest counties in the state.

“Certainly, we’ll try and work with you to try to get your CDLs,” McLain said. “We have a trainer down there that works, and it’s a pretty lengthy process to get it. It’s not easy.”

In addition to the size of the county and the number of routes, McLain said poor road conditions across much of the system mean accidents are bound to occur on occasion.

“A lot of them are like one-lane driveways that we run and transport these 74 and 78-passenger buses on which we’re trying to get kids to school,” McLain said. “That’s the obstacle, and we want kids to be safe, but when then when things happen, with as many as we have, things are gonna happen sometimes.

“I mean, look how large those buses are and go visit some of the roads we travel on. Now, it’s about impossible to go around a curve in some places without veering off the road in some places.”

Despite the crash, McLain said bus travel for students is largely safe.

“Transportation on a school bus is one of the safest modes of travel,” McLain said. “Now, have we had three or four accidents that we’ve had since school started? Yes, we have. But some of that’s due to the width of the road, some of that’s not always our fault, and then when you’re running 80 buses before daylight and 80 buses after school every day, that’s a lot of roads that we’re traveling.”

McLain expects to learn more about the crash from the highway patrol soon.

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