A group that included six Carlisle-area students were returning from a day of sightseeing in Washington, D.C., Wednesday when its bus plunged off a highway and rolled, killing the driver and injuring at least a dozen, authorities said.

St. Patrick School administrators confirmed that six of its students and two parents were on the bus. None were seriously injured, said Principal Ricman Fly, adding that they suffered "bumps and bruises" and some required stitches.

"They should all be released and on their way home, maybe even by now," he said Wednesday night.

The bus trip was not an organized St. Patrick School activity, Fly said, and administrators were scrambling Wednesday to determine who was behind the trip. The South Middleton Township school was closed Wednesday for a scheduled day off.

At about 4 p.m., the bus, chartered from Wolf's Bus Lines in York Springs, was traveling on the HOV sky ramp from I-495 westbound to I-270 northbound in Montgomery County, Md., when it went off the ramp and plunged 45 feet down a hill onto the I-270 spur.

The driver, 66-year-old Joseph A. Clabaugh Jr. of Hanover, was killed in the crash, said Maryland State Police spokesman Greg Shipley.

A two-vehicle collision occurred on I-270 when the bus came to a rest on the opposite side of a jersey wall that lines the highway, a Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Services official said.

A female occupant of one of the two vehicles involved in the I-270 crash was taken to a hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.

Eleven people who were on the bus were also taken to an area hospital.

Of those, two had serious, life-threatening injuries while the other nine had non-life-threatening injuries.

‘Fully cooperating'

Earlier, television footage showed crews in yellow jackets and helmets walking up ladders and crawling into the holed-out windows of the bus, which was carrying 8- and 9-year-old students. Rescuers spread out tarp on the roadway, where a woman lay with a brace around her neck and held a compress to her head. Police dogs were searching the area in case people were ejected from the bus.

Some children also sat in the triage areas surrounded by backpacks, including a girl with a white bandage wrapped around her head. A firefighter could be seen carrying a child in his arms, while others were taken away on stretchers.

Authorities had to extricate several people from the "limousine-style tour bus," said Montgomery County Fire Department Assistant Chief Scott Graham.

The crash occurred as the afternoon rush hour started to build, creating a massive traffic jam northwest of Washington.

State police helicopters were flying over the scene, taking pictures for the investigation. Officials with the National Transportation Safety Board were en route.

Troopers believe the bus crashed through a guard rail, hit a concrete barrier on the ramp and plunged down a hill, Shipley said. It rolled once and came to rest with its wheels on the barrier. What caused the crash may not be known for days or weeks. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.

Dr. Barton Leonard, an emergency physician at Suburban Hospital where eight patients were taken, said considering how far the bus fell, "I'm surprised there weren't more severe injuries."

Montgomery County Council President Nancy Floreen said she was shocked to learn of what she called probably the worst accident in her 10 years in local public office.

"Our hearts and prayers go out to the families of those people, those children," Floreen said.

When reached by phone Wednesday evening, Cher Copenhaver, spokesperson for Wolf's Bus Lines, declined to comment on the incident.

In an statement e-mailed to The Sentinel, Copenhaver said the bus line was "fully cooperating with the authorities in their investigation of this incident."

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to all family members involved," she added.

Second crash involving students

Despite the crash, classes were expected to resume today at St. Patrick School.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with not only the students who were on the bus from St. Patrick's, but all of the people who were on the bus, especially to the man who passed away," added the Rev. William C. Forrey, pastor at the school.

The accident is not the first for a Wolf's bus carrying Carlisle area students.

In May 2008, a Wolf's coach bus carrying Carlisle Area School District students overturned onto its side on Route 15 in Adams County.

That bus was also on its way back from a Washington, D.C., when the crash occurred in the early evening hours.

The bus, carrying eighth-graders from Wilson Middle School, apparently blew out a tire, causing it to careen out of control and flip over onto its side on Route 15 in Straban Township.

That crash sent 42 children and adults to Gettysburg Hospital. Of those, three were transferred to York Hospital and five to Hershey Medical Center, while the remaining were treated in Gettysburg.

Forty-five people were on that bus.

- - -

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Posted earlier on Cumberlink:

Kids and their parents who spent Wednesday sightseeing in the nation's capital were headed home to Pennsylvania when their bus plunged off a highway and rolled, killing the driver and injuring at least a dozen, authorities said.

The Pennsylvania-based Wolf's Bus Lines Inc. bus careened some 45 feet off a skyramp of the Capital Beltway and stopped below along Interstate 270 in Bethesda, a suburb of D.C., said Maryland State Police Sgt. Michael Brennan.

St. Patrick School administrators have confirmed that six students and two parents were on a bus that crashed outside Washington, D.C. this afternoon.

All eight are doing fine, said Ricman Fly, school principal. They suffered "bumps and bruises" and some stitches, he added. Their names were not available tonight.

"They should all be released and on their way home, maybe even by now," he said at 9 p.m.

St. Patrick School is expected to be open for a normal day Thursday, Fly said.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with not only the students who were on the bus from St. Patricks, but all of the people who were on the bus, especially to the man who passed away," added the Rev. William C. Forrey, pastor at the school in South Middleton Township.

Authorities say the driver of the commuter bus was killed when it plunged off a highway outside the nation's capital.

Some on the bus had been to the National Mall and National Zoo, according to state police spokesman Greg Shipley, and a pastor said some were students at St. Patrick School in Carlisle, Pa.

Troopers believe the bus crashed through a guard rail, hit a concrete barrier on the ramp and plunged down a hill, Shipley said. It rolled once and came to rest with its wheels on the barrier. What caused the crash may not be known for days or weeks. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.

Dr. Barton Leonard, an emergency physician at Suburban Hospital where eight patients were taken, said considering how far the bus fell, "I'm surprised there weren't more severe injuries."

The bus on Wednesday afternoon fell 45 feet off a skyramp of the Capital Beltway and landed below along Interstate 270 in Bethesda, said Maryland State Police Sgt. Michael Brennan.

State police spokesman Greg Shipley identified the driver as 66-year-old Joseph A. Clabaugh Jr. of Hanover, Pa. He died at the scene.

Parents and children were aboard the bus that fell 45 feet off a skyramp of the Capital Beltway and landed below along Interstate 270 in Bethesda, said Maryland State Police Sgt. Michael Brennan.

State police spokesman Greg Shipley identified the driver as 66-year-old Joseph A. Clabaugh Jr. of Hanover, Pa.


Posted earlier on Cumberlink:

According to abc27, the bus, from Wolf Bus Lines in York Springs, was carrying 8- to 9-year-old students from the Carlisle area. Two patients are reported to be in critical condition and two are in serious condition. Several other passengers have minor injuries, with emergency workers treating about 10 to 15 people.

Conficting reports have emerged on whether the students were from St. Patrick School in South Middleton Township. Joe Aponick, spokesman for the Roman Catholic Diocese in Harrisburg told The Sentinel "it was not a St. Patrick School function. The school was closed today."

"However I am hearing reports that there were some children that attend St. Patricks on the bus. I guess it was a day off and somehow a trip was organized. I don't know by who, but I am told it was not organized by the school."

None of the 11 patients taken to Suburban Hospital suffered life-threatening injuries, said hospital spokeswoman Ronna Borenstein-Levy. She said four children who were treated are in good condition. Two adults are in fair condition, and five others are in good condition.

"We were fortunate these people didn't have more severe injuries," Borenstein-Levy said.

No one from the bus was taken to Holy Cross Hospital or Montgomery County General.


As posted on Cumberlink at 6:11 p.m.

Federal online records for Wolf's Bus Line, the company that owns the bus involved in Wednesday's accident, show it has a safety rating of satisfactory meaning "records indicate no evidence of substantial non-compliance with safety requirements." The rating is the highest of the three possible, which include conditional for a motorcoach carrier that failed to meet at least one safety requirement or unsatisfactory in which a company has substantial shortcoming on safety requirements.

Online federal records also show one accident with an injury for Wolf's within the last 24 months but the site does not provide details of the incident.

Wolf has 44 drivers, according to records with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

The crash occurred about 4 p.m. as the afternoon rush hour started to build, creating a massive traffic jam northwest of Washington.

WGAL News 8 is reporting the passengers on the bus were a private group.

Carlisle school officials, however, say the trip was not affiliated with the district. Superintendent John Friend said Wolf Bus Lines told him the bus was on some sort of a private trip that was not affiliated with a school, ABC27 reports.


Posted earlier on Cumberlink:

Television footage of the scene showed crews in yellow jackets and helmets walking up ladders and crawling into the holed-out windows of the bus. Rescuers spread out tarp on the roadway where a woman lay with a brace around her neck and held a compress to her head.

Some children also sat in the triage areas surrounded by backpacks, including a girl with a white bandage wrapped around her head. A firefighter could be seen carrying a child in his arms, while others were taken away on stretchers.


Posted earlier on Cumberlink:

None of the 11 patients taken to Suburban Hospital suffered life-threatening injuries, said hospital spokeswoman Ronna Borenstein-Levy. She said four children who were treated are in good condition. Two adults are in fair condition, and five others are in good condition, the Washington Post reports.

"We were fortunate these people didn't have more severe injuries," Borenstein-Levy said.

No one from the bus was taken to Holy Cross Hospital or Montgomery County General.

Federal online records for Wolf's Bus Line, the company that owns the bus involved in Wednesday's accident, show it has a safety rating of satisfactory meaning "records indicate no evidence of substantial non-compliance with safety requirements." The rating is the highest of the three possible, which include conditional for a motorcoach carrier that failed to meet at least one safety requirement or unsatisfactory in which a company has substantial shortcoming on safety requirements.

Online federal records also show one accident with an injury for Wolf's within the last 24 months but the site does not provide details of the incident.

Wolf has 44 drivers, according to records with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.


Posted earlier on Cumberlink:

The AP is reporting that officials said the children were not public school students.


Posted earlier on Cumberlink:

Ronna Borenstein, a spokeswoman for Suburban Hospital, told the Associated Press that five people were brought there and four more were expected. She did not have their conditions but said she believed four of the five at the hospital were children.

A person who answered the telephone at the York-based Wolf's Bus Lines said she had no information about the crash.


Posted earlier on Cumberlink:

State police spokesman Greg Shipley told the Associated Press that parents and children were aboard the bus that fell 45 feet off a skyramp of the Capital Beltway and landed below along Interstate 270 in Bethesda on Wednesday afternoon.

Montgomery County fire department spokesman Capt. Oscar Garcia says crews had to extricate four trapped people and that two have life-threatening injuries.

The severely damaged white bus, with green lettering reading "Wolf's," is sitting upright just over a jersey wall from a lane of I-270. Rescue workers have propped up ladders to reach inside the shattered windows.


Posted at 5:25 p.m. on Cumberlink:

A tour bus crashed on the Capital Beltway this afternoon, killing at least one passenger with four others suffering from serious injuries.

According to abc27, the bus, from Wolf Bus Lines in York Springs, was carrying 8- to 9-year-old students from the Carlisle area. Two patients are reported to be in critical condition and two are in serious condition. Several other passengers have minor injuries, with emergency workers treating about 10 to 15 people.

It's being reported that the driver may have had a medical emergency and may be dead.

Fire officials said the bus was traveling on the HOV sky ramp from I-495 westbound to I-270 northbound in Montgomery County, Maryland when it drove off the ramp and fell 45 feet onto the I-270 spur at around 4 p.m.

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