Thomasville Times Enterprise

December 18, 2013

GSP probing wreck involving school bus

Patti Dozier

THOMASVILLE — Charges are pending in a Tuesday crash in which a car traveled into the rear of a Thomas County school bus.

“We have some questions we have to get answered,” said Sgt. First Class Tommy Peeples, commander of Thomasville Post 12 Georgia State Patrol.

The school bus, driven by Danny NeSmith, 67, Thomasville, was traveling in the right, outside lane on U.S. 319 North near Sanford Road about 4 p.m. when the 2013 Thomas Built bus pulled into the center turn lane. The driver radioed the bus shop to say he had stopped.

“There apparently was a disciplinary problem on the bus,” Peeples said.

NeSmith had gotten up and was headed to the back of the bus when the collision took place.

A 2002 Ford Taurus driven by a 17-year-old male traveling in the left inside lane slammed on brakes and slid into the back of the bus.

Because charges are pending in the wreck, GSP cannot release the name of the teen, who is in the intensive care unit at Archbold Memorial Hospital.

“The bus driver had his hazard lights/flashers on,” the trooper said.

Dr. Dusty Kornegay, Thomas County school superintendent, said that while he has no official report from GSP, it is his understanding NeSmith will not be charged.

NeSmith was back on the job Wednesday.

The school bus was equipped with four cameras. Video captured by the cameras was provided to GSP to assist in the investigation.

Kornegay said is waiting for GSP’s report before deciding whether there will be an internal investigation of the incident.

Seventeen students were on the bus at the time of the crash. A 10th-grade female student was transported to Archbold and treated and dismissed. Other students were either taken home by another bus or picked up by their parents at the wreck scene.

In addition to GSP, Thomas County Emergency Medical Service, Thomas County Sheriff’s Office and Thomas County Fire/Rescue responded to the wreck.

“I extend my appreciation to them for the professional manner in which they responded to the accident,” Kornegay said. “I appreciate the care and compassion they showed for our students.”

Assistant superintendent Dr. Debra Knight was at the wreck scene within minutes. Elementary school principals Jeanna Mayhall and Sharonda Wilson also responded to help calm small children who were on the bus.

“Our thoughts and prayers and with the young man who was in the other vehicle, and we hope he will be able to make a full recovery,” Kornegay said.

Senior reporter Patti Dozier can be reached at (229) 226-2400, ext. 1820.