A driver was killed Thursday afternoon in a three-vehicle crash involving a Greene County school bus on West Andrew Johnson Highway.
Two children on the Chevrolet mini bus escaped serious injuries when the bus struck a Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck driven by 40-year-old James Henderson, of Bulls Gap. The truck driven by Henderson spun around and struck a Chevrolet Astro van driven by 58-year-old Donald Crum of Greenevile before the pickup rolled onto its roof.
Crum was killed in the crash, according to a Tennessee Highway Patrol preliminary fatality report.
The school bus was driven by 68-year-old Karen Dean of Greeneville. Dean suffered injuries and was taken to a hospital by Greene County-Greeneville EMS. Dean and 65-year-old bus aide Kathy Smith, of Midway, both remained hospitalized Friday morning, Greene County Director of Schools David McLain said.
A 4-year-old on the bus also suffered injuries in the crash and was initially taken to a hospital. A 7-year-old boy on the bus was not hospitalized. Both were home with their parents Friday morning, McLain said.
Dean may have suffered a back injury and the bus aide suffered a broken leg in the crash, he said.
The THP report said that about 2:20 p.m. Thursday, the small-size school bus was turning onto Twin Barns Road from West Andrew Johnson Highway when it failed to yield the right of way, setting the chain-reaction crash in motion.
Henderson, who was wearing a seat belt, was not injured.
Crum, who was waiting at a stop sign in the van when the crash occurred, was not wearing a seat belt. The THP preliminary report said that use of a safety restraint by Crum would have made a difference in the crash outcome.
Traffic citations and other charges are pending against Dean, according to the THP. Toxicology test results are pending.
The children on the bus were coming from the Glenwood Educational Center on Warrensburg Road, McLain said. The 4-year-old was in the Early Learning Program there. Both boys were wearing seat belts and also buckled into child booster seats on the mini bus, which has a wheelchair lift and a capacity of about 12.
The front of the bus came to rest by a stop sign at the intersection of Twin Barns Road and West Andrew Johnson Highway. Bus 007 had extensive front end damage.
Dean is an experienced bus driver with the county school system, McLain said. School system officials are waiting on further information from the THP. An internal review will also be conducted.
“This situation is different. It was awful,” McLain said. “My heart goes out to (the victim’s) family.”
No decision about Dean’s status with Greene County Schools had been made as of Friday.
“In a wreck of this type, generally when a bus driver has an accident, they go get a drug test. Right now, I don’t know her status,” McLain said. “We will just have to see the extent of her injuries and look at the (THP) report. I am not going to make a decision on the driver 15 hours later when she’s laying in the hospital.”
After the crash Thursday, the pickup truck was on its roof and the white van driven by Crum was upright, with damage to the driver’s side door and windshield.
First responders from multiple agencies responded quickly to the scene when it became known a school bus with children aboard was involved.
The crash happened within Greeneville city limits, near Mosheim.
“It was a mess, really. It was bad,” said Don Chandley, of the Greeneville Emergency & Rescue Squad.
Chandley was one of the first on scene and helped extricate the bus occupants by getting the damaged glider door open.
The van driver was taken to a hospital “pretty quick,” Chandley said.
In addition to the THP and EMS, other first responders on scene included the Greeneville Police Department, Greeneville Fire Department, Greene County Sheriff’s Department, Town of Mosheim Volunteer Fire Department and Greene County-Greeneville Office of Emergency Management.
The three-vehicle crash created a lengthy traffic jam on outbound U.S. 11E. The crash remains under investigation by the THP.