GILMER COUNTY, Ga. - About 16 students were taken to the hospital after a single-vehicle accident involving a school bus Monday afternoon in Ellijay, according to deputies.
The Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office said the accident happened along Yukon Road just after 3 p.m. The bus was carrying children from Clear Creek Middle School, which is located nearby, when it flipped on its side.
"My back is bruised and scratched and I have a sprained knee, from the bus crash? yes," said 7th grader Angel Williams.
According to Dr. Shanna Wilkes, the superintendent of Gilmer County Schools 16 middle school students were transported to two area emergency rooms, one in Ellijay the other in Jasper, with non-life threatening injuries. The driver was not injured.
"All I remember is us flipping over and then me getting up and getting out of the bus, Someone broke the back door open," said Williams.
Wyatt Ledford was among the uninjured students returned to Clear Creek Middle School where he is a student and where the bus originated. He said after the bus slid, it flipped when it hit the pavement.
"I just remember the bus driver looking up in the mirror and talking to the kids, telling them to sit down and stuff. He looked back down to turn the wheel and we slid," said Ledford.
Ledford said after the bus slid, it flipped when it hit the pavement. The 14-year-old was among uninjured students picked up by parents at Clear Creek Elementary where the bus originated.
Donna Williams, Angel Williams' mother showed FOX 5 News text messages sent to all parents in the school district. The Williams said they learned Angel was injured when she used a bystander’s phone at the crash, not from the district.
"The school never contacted us and I talked to a couple of parents in the ER and they never contacted them either," said Timothy Williams, Angel's father.
Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes said the district called parents they had information on. She also said the district the male bus driver has been suspended and placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.
"And we also require the driver to undergo any drug and alcohol testing as per regulations from the state," said Wilkes.
She said results from the test should be available sometime Tuesday.
Wilkes wasn't sure if all the students had been released from the emergency rooms by late Monday night.
The cause of the accident is still under investigation by the Georgia State Patrol. Troopers will be looking to see if the rainy conditions contributed to the crash.
Traffic in the area was blocked while emergency crews worked to upright the bus.
The driver of the bus, 71-year-old Harold Lee Moody, has been charged with driver must exercise due care.