Kids On-Board During Bus Crash; Man in Critical Condition

Posted at 6:09 PM, May 29, 2014
and last updated 2014-05-29 18:37:17-04

OTTAWA COUNTY, Mich. (May 29, 2014) — Six kids from Georgetown Elementary were pulled from a school bus following a collision with a pickup truck, around 1 p.m.

It’s not clear who’s at fault, according to investigators.

The Ottawa County Sheriff’s department identified the pickup truck driver as 59-year-old Mark Leathead. He’s listed in critical condition.

The kids were shaken up from the crash, along with the bus driver. They collided with the truck at Baldwin and 28th Avenue.

“Were you scared?” FOX 17 asked Catherine Hill, a student on the bus.

“Mm hm. I was crying,” Catherine Hill, the pre-K student replied.

Hill’s mother, Michelle Andrews, rushed to the chaotic scene.

Andrews said, “I was working, and I got a phone from the teacher, saying that [Catherine] was in [an] accident.”

Before first responders arrived, a number of witnesses came to the kids and drivers aid.

Connor Kroll, a witness said, “I heard the kids screaming and crying. So after I  checked on the guy in the truck, I ran over and popped open the back and checked to make sure the kids were ok.”

As Kroll checked on the students, nurse Valerie Daley check on the driver in the Tundra. That driver had been pinned in.

Daley explained, “The gentleman in the truck there appears to have a head injury and hurt his back. So I spent my whole time in the truck… holding his head still, so they could get the neck brace on.”

Firefighters had to pry the driver’s side door off its hinges to get Leathead out.

Sergeant Steve Austin, with the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office said, “He was initially knocked unconscious. He doesn’t recall the crash or what color the light was at the time.”

Austin said the bus was driving westbound on Baldwin. The truck headed southbound on 28th.

“We’re getting conflicting stories from both drivers and witnesses. The bus driver indicated that the light was originally red coming down Baldwin Street down the hill. The light turned green, she started to accelerated and started to proceed through the intersection,” Austin said.

All of that’s uncertain.

Witnesses said the bus driver checked on each child, and Catherine’s mother said the bus driver does a great job. Both drivers were taken to the hospital with injuries.

As officials try to figure out what caused the collision, Catherine’s mom is just thankful things weren’t worse.

“Very relieved. Very relieved. We like the seatbelts on the bus and we think it, they are pretty safe,” Andrews said.

She added, “I wanted to make sure she’s ok. You know, they say she’s ok. But you just don’t know until you see ’em. Right, and now we’re going to watch her, over the next 24 hours and make sure she is indeed ok and if we feel the need to get her in the ER, we will.”

The sheriff’s department is working to determine what led to this accident and who’s at fault.