A three-vehicle crash involving a school bus in Pittsgrove Township, New Jersey resulted in two fatalities.
A Pittsgrove Township Schools bus transporting 19 students on Friday was traveling eastbound on County Road 540, the New Jersey State Police stated, as two other vehicles, a Nissan Murano and Volkswagen Jetta, were traveling westbound. According to the preliminary investigation, the Nissan crossed the center lines, entered the eastbound lane and struck the school bus. Following the impact, both vehicles then entered the westbound lane and struck the Volkswagen. All vehicles then traveled off the right side of the roadway.
The driver of the Nissan, Peral Caudill, 70, was pronounced dead at the scene. School bus driver Denise Powell, 60, was airlifted to a local hospital, where she died from her injuries. The driver of the Volkswagen, who was not identified at this writing, sustained moderate injuries and was transported to the hospital.
Two students on the school bus were also transported to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries as a precaution.
Matthew Carey, the superintendent of Pittsgrove Township Schools, stated in a letter posted on the district website that Powell was both a district school bus driver and a cafeteria worker. He asked the community to keep Powell’s family and friends in their thoughts and prayers.
“The accident resulted in only minor injuries to some students, which we are so thankful for,” Carey continued, “I would also like to acknowledge Mr. Monti and Mrs. Kirschner-Stabile, administrators that were on the scene and successfully reunited the students with their parents. Also, thank you to the New Jersey State Police, Emergency Management Technicians and the Pittsgrove Township School District Transportation Department Leadership that responded to the accident scene.”
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He also addressed the good Samaritans that stopped to help, one of which being Board of Education President Dr. Emily Cannon. “There were many people and parents that helped and it is comforting to know we have such a caring community,” he added. “In tragedy, you can always find blessings.”
Carey said this is a tragic event that always be remembered be the with school community. The district is offering grief counseling and interventions for students and staff that need it.
“Ms. Powell was a beloved member of our district for over 20 years,” Carey concluded. “She served as a bus driver and cafeteria worker. The children loved her and her colleagues did as well. She passed serving the school community, Denise Powell is a hero.”
The crash remains under investigation.