Troopers: School bus driver cited for Burke County crash

A school bus driver has been cited for a crash that happened Thursday morning, troopers said.

According to the North Carolina State Highway Patrol, the crash happened around 6:30 a.m. in eastern Burke County, along Johnson Bridge Road near George Hildebran School Road.

According to highway patrol, the bus was heading north on Johnson Bridge Road when it went off the right side of the road. The bus came to a stop after hitting several trees.

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The school district said the bus was for children with special needs, and said there were five students on board when it went off the road. Troopers also said there were two adults on the bus.

Paramedics said when they evaluated everyone on board, they only had bumps and bruises, and nobody was taken to the hospital.

Firefighters from George Hildebran Fire sent pictures of the crash to Channel 9′s Dave Faherty. They said when they arrived, the children had already been moved through the back door of the bus by drivers who had stopped for the wreck.

The bus driver, Rena Decker, who has been driving buses for more than 22 years, is accused of falling asleep at the wheel. She was cited for failure to maintain lane control.

According to the district, the bus served three different schools: East Burke Middle, East Burke High, and Ray Childers Elementary. The driver had started her route around 5:15 a.m.

Brittney Wright’s daughter was one of the students on board at the time of the crash.

“I don’t think she should lose her job,” she told Faherty.

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“You forgive her?” he asked.

“I do, I’m a very forgiving person,” Wright said. “I know it could have been a lot worse than what it was, but all of the kids are OK and my daughter is OK and that’s what matters to me.”

Bill Jones lives near where the bus crashed. He and others have adopted a stretch of roadway to honor his stepson who died from cancer. He is very familiar with Johnson Bridge road and says there have been accidents there before.

“Everybody knows when you come down this long straightaway and you hit these curves, if you’ve never been on the road, it’s real easy,” Jones said. “And I can’t tell you how many times cars have been upside down in this ditch.”

The school district said as part of its protocol, drivers are screened after crashes like this. They said there are cameras on the bus but they are not releasing that video at this time because of the internal investigation now underway.

Troopers they didn’t find any evidence of impairment at the time of the wreck.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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