School bus, truck collide in West Ashley, terrifying St. Andrews Middle students

A firefighter photographs the interior of a bus that collided with a pickup truck Friday morning at Dupont and Dulsey roads in West Ashley. The bus rolled, injuring five students on board. The bus driver, who also was hurt, was ticketed for failure to yield the right of way. Buy this photo

Courtney Deweese was chatting with a friend as they rode to school Friday morning when her world was — quite literally — turned sideways.

Her yellow school bus rolled through a stop sign and was broadsided by a heavy-duty pickup, according to police. The bus tumbled onto the West Ashley roadside and landed on its side on another stop sign.

The 13-year-old was thrown onto another seat, then into the aisle. She saw a large welt on her friend’s bloodied face.

“I felt like I was in a movie,” she said as she stood next to her parents. They cried with her. “It was slow motion.”

The wreck at Dolsey and Dupont roads, however terrifying, caused only minor injuries to five of eight St. Andrews Middle students. The bus driver, 52-year-old Janet Johnson of North Charleston, also was hurt.

She and her students were treated at two hospitals and were released later that morning.

The Charleston Police Department ticketed Johnson with failing to yield the right of way.

Jerry Winn of Adams Run, the 41-year-old driver of the four-door Ford truck, and a passenger were uninjured.

The passenger, who refused to be named, only said that their pickup was traveling along when, “Boom!”

“All I saw was yellow,” he said.

Firefighters punched out the windshield and freed the bus driver, revealing a view through the flat-nose vehicle. A bag of chips, a box of tissues and a binder of paper spilled through the opening.

Wayne Way, 65, was making coffee in his nearby house when he heard the commotion about 8:30 a.m.

He ran outside and helped two schoolchildren who “were in drama,” Way said. They wept because of the cuts and bruises they suffered during the upheaval.

As wrecker operators righted the bus, Way said the intersection has been problematic; crashes are reported monthly.

The bus was eastbound on Dolsey when it traveled into the path of the Ford, which was northbound on Dupont.

The bus’ right fender was dented. The pickup’s engine was crushed. A four-way stop or a light, Way surmised, might have prevented the destruction.

“This is the worst one yet,” he said. “It’s an ongoing situation that needs to be handled, especially with the school.”

Shortly after the crash, a mother ran through the scene and asked an officer about her child. She commenced her sprint when she was told that an ambulance had taken the student.

For Courtney, a Shadowmoss resident, the wreck was a first-time experience.

Her parents, who pulled her close, calmed themselves after learning that their daughter had escaped serious injury.

“She just called and said, ‘Mom, the bus flipped over,’ ” Carolyn Deweese said. “The phone went dead. My heart sunk.”

Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414.

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