School Bus Driver Injured In Crash With Tractor-Trailer In Middletown
MIDDLETOWN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- A school bus driver was hospitalized late Friday, after a crash involving a semi-trailer truck in Middletown, New Jersey.
As CBS2's Christine Sloan reported, an army of firefighters rushed to the scene to free the driver -- 65-year-old Beverly Cerbone -- from the school bus following the accident Friday morning. The bus plowed into the back of a truck that was parked on the shoulder of Route 35.
The impact of the accident was so severe that workers at a nearby gym even heard it.
"It sounded almost like weights in a gym dropping," said witness Emma Iorio.
Witnesses were also alarmed as they saw the state of the bus.
"I saw the bus totally destroyed," said witness David Yasser. "Thankfully there were no kids on the bus."
Cerbone, who worked for L. Helfrich and sons, was airlifted to Jersey Shore Medical Center in Neptune City with non-life threatening injuries.
Police said the truck driver was not inside the vehicle at the time of the crash. He had apparently left the tractor-trailer parked illegally on the busy highway as he went into a nearby 7-Eleven to get coffee, WCBS 880's Kelly Waldron reported.
Police were working with the trucking company to track down the driver, who they said took off on foot after the accident.
"Just thank God there was no kids on board, that's always the biggest fear" said school bus driver Nancy Best, who came to the scene to make sure it wasn't someone she knew who was involved.
Witnesses said the trucker panicked.
"He ran and went behind the store," said witness Maria DeAngelis.
Other witnesses said the bus driver might have had problems driving toward the sun.
"He was sitting over the shoulder a little bit; his wheels were hanging out. And I guess the bus didn't see it that early in the morning," added store employee Tim White.
"I was thinking at that time of the morning when you're headed in that direction, the sun is blinding," said witness David Sandler. "Maybe she was blinded by the sun."
Investigators told CBS2 cameras captured the trucker. There is one behind the strip mall and one inside the 7-Eleven.
White said he sees trucks parked on the shoulder from time to time even though it is illegal.
"We see every so often – at least maybe one or two a week, we see parked over there," he said.
The Middletown Police are requesting anyone who may have witnessed the accident to contact the Traffic Bureau at 732-615-2045.
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