ARLINGTON, Va. – One child was killed and 14 were injured Monday when their school bus collided with a garbage truck at a busy intersection. Horrified bystanders helped remove students from the wreckage.
The drivers of the bus and truck were hospitalized in critical condition, as was one of the children, Arlington County Fire Department (search) spokeswoman Carol Saulnier said. The other children, ranging from kindergartners to fifth graders, had minor injuries and were taken to area hospitals. Twelve were treated and released.
Police spokesman Matt Martin said the bus apparently was trying to make a left turn when it collided with the truck at 8:40 a.m. at the intersection of two major streets in this Washington suburb.
Bystanders and passengers on a Metrobus (search) that came upon the scene helped pull children out of the bus.
"A lot of them were bleeding," said Metrobus passenger Willena Roney, 43, from Arlington (search). "They were scared and upset."
Fire Chief Jim Schwartz said there was difficulty removing some of the victims from the bus, which had its front end crushed. Firefighters worked more than half an hour to free the truck driver.
Arlington school buses are equipped with seat belts for drivers, but not for students. The children were on their way to Hoffman-Boston Elementary School. Schools spokeswoman Linda Erdos said counselors were sent to the school and the hospitals to work with students and families.
Parents, some in tears, rushed to the school after hearing reports of the accident and were met by police, school personnel and "much confusion," said Missy Jones, who went there to check on her second-grader, who was not involved in the accident.
The school bus driver, who was not immediately identified, had an unblemished record during her 11 years with the school system, said Superintendent Robert Smith.
Fatal accidents involving school buses and vans are relatively rare. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports 79 passengers and 40 drivers killed since 1993, an average of about 11 people per year.
Police and fire officials refused to speculate on which, if either, of the drivers was at fault in the accident. They said they were working with the National Transportation Safety Board to reconstruct the events.