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Van strikes school bus at 78th Rd.

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Fire Department officials said there were 12 children...

By Chris Fuchs

Two women were injured Friday afternoon after their van collided into a mini school bus, sending it barreling up the front lawn of a brick house in Fresh Meadows. None of the children were injured.

Fire Department officials said there were 12 children from PS 86, on Highland Avenue in Fresh Meadows, on the bus when the accident occurred, but they escaped injury. All of the children were taken to Queens General Hospital for observation, said Chief George Lonergan of the 50th Battalion in Jamaica. The driver of the bus refused medical assistance, he said.

The two women, whose names were not released, were taken to New York Hospital Medical Center of Queens, Lonergan said. One woman was treated and released Friday, but the other, who had been admitted to the Intensive Care Unit, was still in the hospital Tuesday night, her condition having improved, said Paul Pickard, a hospital spokesman. Although there was a women in the house at the time of the accident, she was not hurt.

The accident occurred around 3:30 p.m. Friday, shortly after school had let out. The school bus was traveling eastbound on 78th Road and the van south on 162nd Street, the chief said, when the van slammed into the bus, causing it to run up on the front lawn of a house on 162nd Street. Although the bus stopped short of slamming into the house, the collision created a jarring sound that could be heard blocks away, residents said.

There are stop signs on 78th Road in both directions but not one on 162nd Street, a fact that residents say has contributed to a number of accidents that have occurred at the intersection. At the time of the accident, no summons were issued and no arrests were made, the chief said. A woman who answered the phone Friday afternoon at the German Bus Company, which operates the school bus, said she was aware of the accident but offered no further comment.

Lisa Vazquez, who lives on the second floor of the house, said she was working on her computer when the accident happened.

“I thought it was an earthquake,” she said, standing outside her house, where the border around her front lawn had been knocked over by the bus.

Another resident of 162nd Street, Peter Sell, said he was also inside his home when he heard the crash.

“It sounded like a large scraping sound,” he said. Sell said he then called the police and, after that, rushed outside to see what had happened. Two women, he said, were still inside the van, the air bag having deployed, and were bleeding.

Nearly a dozen emergency units, including the Mayor’s Office of Emergency Management, remained on the scene for several hours, sorting out how the collision occurred. The front of the van was flattened from the collision, the inside strewn with blue surgical gloves from emergency medical workers. The bus, though, suffered little damage. The children were corralled on the stoop of a home next to the one where the bus had crashed, emergency officials preparing to take them to the hospital for observation.

Residents who live near the accident said the intersection has long been the site of many accidents, owing to drivers who speed past stop signs. Two years ago, Sell said, a 6-year-old girl who was riding her bicycle down 78th Road was struck and killed by a car that was backing out of a driveway. Another woman, who left her home out of curiosity to see what had happened, also complained about the intersection.

“It’s a disaster street,” she said. “They come down so fast. Even if you don’t have a stop sign, you have to stop because you never know.”

Reach reporter Chris Fuchs by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 156.

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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