Thursday, June 21, 2012
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COVINGTON The Georgia State Patrol Thursday issued citations to four drivers involved in the May 19 school bus crash on Interstate 20 in Newton County that injured 61 people.
Students and chaperones from Burke County Middle School were traveling to Six Flags Over Georgia on six school buses around 10 a.m. when the crash occurred in the westbound lanes of the interstate just west of the Ga. Highway 11 exit and as the vehicles were approaching an active construction zone, said GSP spokesman Gordy Wright.
According to Sgt. Matt Gunnin, assistant commander of the GSP post in Monroe, the buses were traveling in the left lane and traffic began slowing as the buses approached the construction zone where the two lanes were being reduced to one.
"The first bus in line began braking for the slowing traffic ahead, which caused the other buses to brake," he said.
GSP accident investigators have concluded the crash happened as follows: The second bus struck the first bus in the rear. The third and fourth buses moved to the right lane in an attempt to avoid the collision but the fourth bus was hit in the rear by the fifth bus, which caused the fourth to hit the third in the rear. The fifth bus continued forward and struck the second bus in the rear. The fifth bus was then hit from behind by the sixth bus and a passenger car struck the rear of the sixth bus.
The four drivers were charged with following too closely, a misdemeanor. The three buses drivers charged are: Betty Harrison Dukes, 48, of Waynesboro (driver of the second bus); Angela Benjamin Anthony, 44, of Midville (driver of the fifth bus); and Stephanie D. Pierce, 37, of Midville (driver of the sixth bus). Also charged is Latarsha Moneek Owens, 37, of Waynesboro (driver of the 2011 Chevrolet HHR passenger vehicle). The court date is Sept. 18 for all charged in Newton County Probate Court in Covington.