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30 injured, 2 critically, as Philadelphia school tour bus crashes in Maryland

By Kristen A. Graham and Chris Palmer Philadelphia Inquirer

PHILADELPHIA – A bus carrying Philadelphia schoolchildren on an eighth-grade class trip was involved in a serious accident on I-95 in Maryland on Monday.

Thirty people were injured when a Werner Coach charter bus carrying students and chaperones from the C.W. Henry School in West Mount Airy overturned in Harford County, Md., near Havre de Grace, about 9:30 a.m. EDT.

One adult and one child were airlifted to hospitals with critical injuries, according to the Susquehanna Hose Company, which is responsible for fire protection for the city of Havre de Grace, halfway between Wilmington and Baltimore.

A C.W. Henry parent said she was told by school staff that the critically injured adult was a teacher.

On board the bus were 26 children, two teachers, one parent chaperone and one driver, the Maryland State Police said. Besides the two people airlifted to hospitals, the others were transported to three area hospitals with less serious injuries – broken bones, head injuries, asthma attacks, officials said.

There are “no fatalities at this time,” state police officials said shortly before noon.

Greg Shipley of Maryland State police said the bus might have overturned “at least once, possibly twice” in the accident.

The crash investigation is ongoing, police said; “a passenger car was apparently involved in some way.”

Robin Roberts, a parent of a sixth-grader at Henry, was shaken at the news. She said little information had gone out from the school, and parents were anxious and confused.

“I am just beside myself at this point,” Roberts said.

Another parent at the school described the scene there as “chaos.”

Roberts said she had just spoken with a parent whose child was injured in the crash. The boy, she said, had two broken legs and a dislocated shoulder.

“I just hope that’s the worst of it,” said Roberts.

The critically injured child was flown to Nemours duPont Hospital in Delaware and the seriously injured teacher, a woman, was flown to Maryland Shock Trauma center in Baltimore.

A spokesman for the University of Maryland Health System said that about 15 patients were being treated at the University of Maryland Harford Memorial Hospital in Havre de Grace, and another 10 or so were being treated for more minor injuries at the University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Medical Center in Bel Air.

Werner Coach, based in Phoenixville, employs 39 drivers for its 27-vehicle fleet, according to federal records.

The company has seen increasing maintenance problems over the past two years with 61 violations found during 58 inspections. Werner’s maintenance record has fared worse than 78 percent of similarly sized bus companies, according to a review of federal safety records. Werner has reported two crashes during that span. Neither involved injuries or fatalities but vehicles had to be towed away.

Calls to Werner were referred to Heath Ochroch, listed on corporate filings as its president.

Ochroch did not respond to requests for comment.

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