THOMASVILLE — It could have been so much worse. So said Thomas County Schools Superintendent Dr. Larry Green.

At approximately 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, a four-bus accident on the U.S. 84 Bypass near Georgia State Patrol Post 12 in Thomasville resulted in 22 students and one bus driver seeking treatment at Archbold Medical Center or Urgent Care Center.

But, as of 7 p.m., there were no serious injuries found or reported.

“We had students transported to Archbold who complained of injury but there were no serious injuries that we could tell,” said Dep. Steve Jones, Thomas County Sheriff’s Office school resource officer coordinator, who was on the scene.

Green went immediately to the hospital to check on students and speak with concerned parents.

“This is something we prepare ourselves for, but (we) are never really prepared for it,” said Green. “It’s always traumatic when you have something involving kids.”

Sgt. J.K. Luke, assistant post commander of GSP Post 12, said the accident was like a domino effect.

“We heard the crash inside the patrol post and then myself and Sgt. First Class M.K. Pittman, post commander, responded to the scene,” said Luke. “The buses always line up to go in or out of the schools and these buses were a tenth of a mile from Charlie Ward Boulevard —they’d just pulled onto the highway — and there was heavy traffic.”

Luke said some children stood up in the back of bus 01-56 and bus driver Stephen Daniel Nesmith looked back to get them to sit down. He said when Nesmith again looked to the front, it was too late.

“The other buses had stopped and the front end of his bus struck the rear of bus two,” he said. “The driver saw the bus coming and solidly held his brakes and that helped some. Then, that bus was propelled into bus three and, in turn, that bus knocked into the fourth bus.”

The other buses involved were: 94-55, 97-43 and 96-24.

All buses involved were carrying students of various ages from county early elementary, middle and high school classes. Green said students had not been picked up from Cross Creek at the time of the accident.

As a precaution, 11 students, who could all walk, were transported by ambulance to Archbold Medical Center.

Melanie Hester, public relations specialist for Archbold Medical Center, issued a press release at 6 p.m.

“The Emergency Department at John D. Archbold Memorial Hospital treated 17 students and one bus driver from the multi-bus accident,” said Hester. “Injuries were minor with some students complaining of neck and back pain. Six patients were taken to the Urgent Care Center by their parents where they were treated for minor bumps and bruises.”

Green said only two of the buses sustained significant damage.

“There was serious damage to the bus driven by Nesmith. It’s not serviceable,” he said. “The accident messed up the back bumper of the other bus, but that can be corrected.”

Nesmith was issued a citation.

Green said the students handled the situation well.

“They’ve handled it great, even the kindergarten students,” said Green, as he waited with students and parents at the hospital on Tuesday evening. “The youngest student got a little tearful but her principal and assistant principal were here to comfort her. The system’s head mechanic and route supervisor and others have also been concerned and come out to help comfort students and talk with parents.”

Green said the school had insurance to help in case parents were not covered. He encouraged any student who might have gotten home and felt like he or she needed to be checked out to seek medical attention.

“It could have been much worse and I’m glad it’s nothing serious,” he said. “We’re going to continue to check to make sure all of our students are OK.”

Recommended for you