SUV slams into minibus on Flushing leg of LIE

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A sport utility vehicle slammed into a Parks Department truck and then sideswiped a school minibus carrying 10 5-year-olds home from Bayside before flipping over on the westbound stretch of the Long Island Expressway Monday afternoon, police said.

All of the children, the bus driver and her assistant escaped injury in the accident, which occurred near 172nd Street in Flushing shortly after 2 p.m. One of the young students was taken to New York Hospital Medical Center of Queens for evaluation because he was not acting like himself, said the bus driver, Louisa Tejada.

The boy was treated and released, said Paul Pickard, a hospital spokesman. Five passengers in the Passport were treated at the scene by medics. The truck driver was not injured.

The driver of the sport utility vehicle, a Honda Passport, was also treated and released, Pickard said. But he was placed under arrest and charged with reckless driving, police said.

Authorities at the scene declined to disclose the identity of the driver of the SUV.

Police at the scene said they were investigating whether alcohol played a factor in the accident. A crushed Budweiser can lay next to the overturned Passport, its contents spilled onto the highway. Law enforcement sources said police recovered six cans of beer from the vehicle.

“There was apparently some alcohol on the scene,” said one police officer, who would not give his name.

The 5-year-olds were all students at ICCD Bayside, a preschool that caters to children with developmental needs. Tejada said she was driving them home when the Passport pushed her from the center lane, across the left lane and into the divider that separates the westbound and eastbound lanes.

“This guy came speeding I don’t know how many miles per hour in front of me,” Tejada said moments after the accident. “The bus was going to tilt over, but I got control. They were going so fast.”

Police said the Parks Department truck was traveling in the right lane, with the school bus in the center lane a short distance behind. The Passport tried to switch from the right lane to the center lane by squeezing between the two vehicles, but slammed into the back of the truck. It then careened into the left side of the school bus before running into the divider and flipping over.

“They were lucky they all came out,” said the truck driver, referring to the driver and five passengers who emerged from the SUV.

Emergency medical technicians and a Fire Department doctor boarded the school bus to check the students’ vital signs. Firefighters poured cups of water for the children, who were sweating in the hot sun.

A replacement school bus was sent from Brooklyn to take the children to their homes.

Reach reporter Daniel Massey by e-mail at or call 229-0300, Ext. 156.

Updated 7:08 pm, October 10, 2011
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