CHARLOTTE — Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story showed a picture of someone in a neck brace -- who we have now learned was not on the school bus. We were in contact with a woman who claimed to have two children on the bus. But we’ve since learned the picture she sent us is from another incident altogether. We apologize for the mistake and are committed to making sure it doesn’t happen again.
The driver of a dump truck has been cited after he fell asleep before crashing into a school bus and another car on May 11, according to a crash report.
Sixteen people, including 14 students, were hurt in the crash that happened on Sharon Road West at Sharonbrook Drive at about 6:30 a.m. The whole scene was east of South Boulevard.
Authorities said it involved a Charlotte-Mecklenburg School bus, a passenger car, and a small white dump truck. The school bus was headed to South Mecklenburg High School at the time, officials said.
According to a crash report, the 23-year-old dump truck driver said he fell asleep, crossed the center line and hit a car. The dump truck then collided head on with the bus, before the bus went off the road and through a metal fence.
Paramedics said they had several units at the scene, including the mass casualty bus.
In an update just before 8 a.m. on May 11, MEDIC said 16 people were hurt. The school bus driver was taken to a hospital with serious injuries and the dump truck driver had injuries MEDIC called “life-threatening.” First responders also said 14 of the patients were children and they were taken to the hospital on the mass casualty bus. They were all expected to recover, MEDIC said.
In a news conference after that, just after 8 a.m., officials said the driver of the school bus and the dump truck driver were both trapped in the crash. Charlotte Fire Department firefighters were able to free the bus driver in 30 minutes and the dump truck driver in an hour. CFD Battalion Chief Michael Gerin said the extrication took so long because of the “high impact” of the bus and the truck.
“What we focused on was the removal of the dump truck driver and the CMS driver,” he said.
MEDIC Operations Superior Kenny Phillips said both drivers were conscious when they were taken to the hospital, but he didn’t have anything further on their conditions. The driver of the car was not hurt in the crash, officials said.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said the dump truck driver was issued a citation for driving left of center.
Crews work quickly to get all students off bus
Phillips said they were able to get to the students who were on the bus off of it quickly.
Paramedics also said they were coordinating with hospitals to take patients to multiple locations.
According to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, the bus involved is bus 222 which was heading to South Mecklenburg High School. Fifteen total students were on board, CMS said.
“I heard a big boom, like a transformer blew. I immediately jumped up and came out and saw all the children getting out of the back of the bus,” witness Angie Washington said. “Kids were crying. They were hysterical, and it was just unexplainable actually.”
Student recounts moment crash happened
Freshman Diana Estevez was on the bus when she heard a scream followed by the collision.
“So I got scared,” Estevez said.
She saw smoke and felt glass spray on her.
“I just (saw), like, everybody, like, standing up and then trying to get to the back door,” Estevez said.
It was the first time she had been in a wreck.
“It’s kind of, like, shocking, to have been in one, like, for the first time,” she said. “And especially on a school bus where it wasn’t only just me.”
(Watch the video above: Student recalls frightening school bus crash in south Charlotte)
911 calls released from school bus crash
A week following the collision, 911 calls were released of the moments after the crash happened.
One call is from a student on the bus.
“We had an accident here in a bus going to school,” the student can be heard telling the dispatcher.
The 911 dispatcher then asked her if anyone was hurt. The student replies, “yes.”
“Let me get MEDIC on the line. Don’t disconnect,” the dispatcher said.
(Watch the video above: 911 calls released from school bus crash that left 14 students hurt)
Channel 9 crews saw a massive response at the crash scene from several Mecklenburg County agencies. Parents at the scene told Reporter Anthony Kustura they were trying to pick up their kids from the crash site.
Atrium Health gave the following statement to Channel 9:
“As the region’s only Level I adult and pediatric Trauma Center, Atrium Health’s Carolinas Medical Center and Atrium Health’s Levine Children’s Hospital are always prepared for whatever may come through the doors. This morning the emergency department received notification of a school bus crash with multiple patients and quickly activated necessary procedures which allows for additional resources in the emergency department. The teams were fully prepared and able to handle the influx of patients while maintaining the highest-level quality of care our patients deserve.
“CMC and LCH received 8 pediatric patients and 2 adult patients from the crash. As of 10 a.m. no patients had been discharged.”
This is a developing story. Check back with wsoctv.com for updates.
(WATCH: Multiple Meck County agencies give update at the scene of school bus crash)
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