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Bus driver involved in 6-bus collision recovering

COVINGTON -- The bus driver who was injured Saturday in the six-bus collision involving Burke County middle school students on their way to Six Flags Over Georgia continues to improve at Grady Memorial Hospital, according to the Georgia State Patrol.

"She is a 44-year-old female from Midville and was airlifted to Grady," said GSP spokesman Gordy Wright Monday morning. "As of this morning, she was still at Grady with non-life-threatening injuries. She was trapped in the bus she was driving for about an hour."

The crash occurred around 11 a.m. on Interstate 20 westbound, just past Exit 97 at Ga. Highway 11. There were eight buses in the convoy, but only six were involved in the crash, Wright said. Sixty-five students were injured with "mostly bumps and bruises," Wright said, adding that the students were treated at area hospitals with 58 going to Newton Medical Center; seven going to Rockdale Medical Center; two to Walton Medical Center; and two to Morgan County Hospital.

The uninjured students were taken to Eastside High School and parents came and collected some of them and others were transported back to Burke County by mid-afternoon Saturday. Burke County is located just south of Augusta.

GSP's Specialized Collision Reconstruction Team is continuing to investigate the crash, but Wright gave a brief rundown of preliminary reports on what is believed to have happened as motorists were warned by signs of the upcoming construction zone and lane closures.

"It looks like the first bus approached traffic as it was slowing, but lanes had not begun to taper. As the first bus was beginning to slow, it was hit in the rear by the second bus. The third bus driver went into the right lane. The fourth bus also went right and struck the rear of the third; the fifth bus hit the second bus and the sixth bus hit the fifth bus; and then a passenger car hit the rear of the sixth bus," Wright said.

He said any charges were pending the completion of the investigation.

Wright said the buses involved in the crash all appeared to be standard 48-passenger school buses and were taken to the Newton County School System bus barn to be inspected by a Georgia Motor Carrier Compliance team, as well as SCRT investigators. He said three of the buses had to be removed from the interstate with wreckers.

"At some point this week, the interstate will be closed as SCRT does their investigation on the roadway," Wright said.