Dozen students hurt, 2 critically, when school bus rear-ended in Stanly Co.

STANLY COUNTY, N.C. — Officials said several students were injured in a crash Thursday morning involving tractor-trailer and a school bus carrying 25 students in Stanly County.

Troopers confirmed later Thursday that two students were taken to Atrium Health-Stanly in critical condition. It is not clear what their conditions were.

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State troopers said the wreck happened around 7:30 a.m. on Highway 24/27 at Converse Road, southwest of Albemarle.

Nine students were treated and released from the hospital while three high school students were taken to Atrium for inpatient care, officials said.

The school bus driver, as well as the driver of the tractor-trailer, were also taken to the hospital.

School district officials told Channel 9 the school bus was stopped at a bus stop when it was rear-ended by a tractor-trailer.

Channel 9 crews could see the back of the school bus was caved in and the front of the big rig had heavy front-end damage.

A third vehicle, a pickup truck, was also involved in the crash and had damage to its bed.

"We ask for your continued thoughts and prayers for the students, bus driver and their families," Stanly County officials said. "School counselors are available for the students as they process the events of the day. School administration and staff will continue to give support and resources to students and families."

Officials said bus No. 80 had 25 students from West Stanly High School and West Stanly Middle School on board when the crash happened.

West Stanly seventh-grader Kendall McBride said she and her sister were getting ready to hop on the bus when she saw the crash just feet away.

"I sit towards the back, so I probably would’ve gotten hurt badly," McBride said. "I don’t want to ride the bus again because it was so scary."

One neighbor told Channel 9 that the wreck sounded like an explosion.

"I know patrol, Highway Patrol works this road pretty regularly, but still, people are driving faster than they need to be driving," neighbor Hall Smith said.

The driver of the tractor-trailer will be charged with careless and reckless driving after being released from the hospital.

"I don't want to ride the bus again because it was so scary," McBride said.

Highway 24/27 was closed while troopers investigated but has since reopened.

Check back with wsoctv.com for updates on this story.