NEW CASTLE —
State troopers and cleanup crews spent yesterday afternoon and evening clearing a morning school bus and tractor-trailer collision.
The accident occurred shortly after 7 a.m. on Route 18 near Halltown Road, north of Wampum and involved a Mohawk Area School District bus.
The two drivers suffered major injuries, according to state police. They were flown to St. Elizabeth Health Center in Youngstown.
The school bus driver, 51-year-old Wynell Dessau of New Castle, is listed in serious condition. Daniel McAdoo, 56, of Washington, Pa., the rig driver, is in critical condition.
A 14-year-old boy, the only student on the bus, sustained face cuts and according to police was treated at Jameson Hospital. The hospital did not release his identity.
Reports from witnesses were that the bus driver was thrown from the bus upon impact and was lying on the highway pavement but was conscious.
Route 18 in that area was closed to traffic for about 12 hours, reopening around 7:30 p.m.
According to a police report, the school bus was stopped at a stop sign at Halltown Road and McAdoo’s rig was southbound on Route 18. Dessau failed to yield the right of way and pulled onto Route 18 into McAdoo’s path. His truck’s right front hit the left front of the school bus.
Upon impact, the bus spun counterclockwise and ejected Dessau onto the highway, police said.
The tractor-trailer was carrying a load of fertilizer made up of ammonium nitrate. The white powder spilled onto the highway and mixed with spilled diesel fuel, prompting cleanup by Weavertown Environmental Group of the Pittsburgh area.
After impact, the school bus was sideways on the highway, and the truck was partially in the southbound lane, closing the road to traffic for most of the day.
Mohawk Area superintendent Kathleen Kwolek said early yesterday afternoon that the school had been notified of the accident.
She was told that the school bus was towed to a garage in Mahoningtown.
With only four more days remaining of school until summer break, the district will have a replacement bus to take over the bus route.
“We’ll have a substitute driver and we do have some backup buses in case we need them,” Kwolek said.
Responding to the scene in addition to state police were the volunteer fire departments of New Beaver Borough, North Beaver Township and Wampum, the Lawrence County Department of Public Safety, Medevac and Noga ambulance services and Bessemer, Ellwood City and New Castle police.
(To view a photo gallery from the crash, CLICK HERE. You can watch the video below.)