Semi-truck, school bus collided; no injuries

Truck driver charged
Dec. 10, 2013 @ 04:04 AM

There were no children on the school bus that was hit by a semi-truck Monday at 6:55 a.m. on U.S.74. and there were no in injuries to the drivers in collision.

However, the east bound lanes between the Caroleen Road Exit and Ellenboro Henrietta exit were closed for more than five hours as the semi-truck was pulled from the left hand shoulder back onto the road. 

The Department of Transportation was called to make repairs on the road.

North Carolina Highway Patrolman J.S. Horton said truck driver Jean Celestin, 21, of Ct. was driving for TransAm.  He was charged with careless and wreckless driving.

He was following the Thomas Jefferson Classical Grammar school bus driven by Larae Putnam, when he attempted a lane change.

Celestin didn't judge the distance of the bus and he struck it in the back left corner.

The collision caused Putnam to lose control of the bus and she ran off the right side of the road. Celestin also lost control, running off the left side of the road and getting stuck.

Horton called the cause of the wreck the "inattention" of the truck driver.

Putnam, who has been driving for Thomas Jefferson four years, was enroute to the YMCA in Boiling Springs to pick up students who ride to school from there.

"Thank goodness they weren't on the bus," said principal Jason Cole. "If she had been on her way back there could have been 40 to 50 students."

The bus sustained about $4,000 in cosmetic damage but was driveable. Jim Cole's wrecker service was able to pull the bus back onto the road by 8:45 a.m.

Another bus was sent to transport the students to school.

Damage to the semi-truck is estimated at  $5,000.

One lane of the highway was closed for a few hours but when it became impossible to free the truck without closing both lanes, the road was blocked.

Assisting at the scene were Ellenboro firefighters and traffic control directors.