Teachers escape serious injury in Fern Gully crash
Several teachers of Eltham High School in Spanish Town, St Catherine, got a serious scare when the bus they were travelling in crashed and caught fire in Fern Gully, Ocho Rios, yesterday morning.
Approximately 50 persons were on the 57-seater bus on an outing to SeaGarden Beach Resort in Montego Bay, St James, when the accident occurred.
Dr Roosevelt Crooks of Lifeline Medical Response said his team transported more than 30 persons from the accident scene to the St Ann's Bay Hospital. He said there appeared to be no serious injuries.
The accident caused an oil leak, forcing the closure of the road for the day, with traffic being diverted through Breadnut Hill.
Evette Scarlett, district officer at the Ocho Rios Fire Station, told reporters that they received a call at about 11:25 yesterday morning that a vehicle had overturned in Fern Gully, and they responded immediately.
"When we arrived on the scene, we saw a coach bus - a 57-seater - fully engulfed in flames. We brought our medium jet into operation to extinguish the fire," Scarlett said.
Tameika Pitt, English language and communication studies teacher at Eltham, told reporters that while travelling through Fern Gully, the driver of the bus became unresponsive, which led to the accident.
Pitt said she was sitting two seats behind the driver, when another teacher in front of her, realising something was not right, reached out to the driver.
"I heard when she said to the driver, 'Alton, yuh all right?' When I looked in the mirror, he seemed a bit spaced out. So she started touching him, 'Alton, yuh all right? Alton, yuh all right?' And he was non-responsive," Pitt said.
STARTED TO SWERVE
She said the female teacher tried to pull the handbrake, before a male counterpart from the back of the bus came forward to help.
"(He) came and tried to put his foot on the brake [pedal], but it wouldn't stop, so the bus started to swerve."
The out-of-control bus then hit a stone wall on the left before ending up on the other side of the road. The passengers then scrambled out of the bus, through windows and doors.
"When I came out, the front of the bus was already on fire - two separate areas: right over the driver's side and under the wheel on the left. But we're all out and we're safe, thank God," Pitt said.
On the scene, the driver, who was waiting to be taken to hospital, told The Gleaner he was feeling okay.
Eltham High School recently closed for the Christmas holidays.
The accident disrupted business for some craft traders in the area. However, they were understanding, with one saying the most important thing was that no one life was lost in the accident.