UPDATE: Bus crash at circle caused by driver error

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Five other cars involved, traffic detoured more than an hour

Egg Harbor Township school bus Egg Harbor Township school bus

EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP - An accident involving a school bus and five other cars on Wednesday, Feb. 7 along Tilton Road near the “airport circle” was caused by driver error, not a mechanical malfunction within the Egg Harbor Township School District bus, as police stated at the time. Board of Education member Barabara Szyilagi reported at a Tuesday, Feb. 28 meeting that the state's investigation of the incident revealed that nothing had occured in the bus to cause the crash.

District Director of Transportation Warren "Skip" Fipp confirmed that the crash was caused by the driver. "She still says she hit the brakes and they didn't work, but the state took the bus apart and tested it and found nothing wrong with the brakes."

Fipp couldn't elaborate on the situation further because it is a personnel issue, to which privacy rights apply.

At approximately 8:10 a.m., five drivers were at a full stop on Tilton Road, standing by in the northbound lane in a long line of vehicles waiting to enter the circle.

 The school bus had exited the Tilton Terrance Mobile Park and was proceeding north on Tilton Road towards the circle when the operator experienced the malfunction.

 A rear-end, chain-reaction collision occurred when the 2000 Blue Bird Transit style school bus operated by Betty Swan, 65, of Egg Harbor Township, failed to stop and collided with the rear of a 2010 Mini Cooper operated by Paula M. McGrath, 21, of Vineland. The Mini Cooper was then forced forward and into the rear of a 2013 Hyundai Sonata operated by Michael McTiernan, 55, of Barnegat. The Hyundai Sonata was then forced forward into and under the rear of a 2002 Ford F150 pickup truck operated by Frederick F. Ertel 51, of Somers Point. The Ford F-150 then traveled forward and into the rear of 2010 Chevrolet Malibu operated by Carol P. Burd, 51, of Egg Harbor Township. The Chevrolet Malibu then traveled forward and into the rear of 2006 Subaru Forester operated by Joseph R. Coffman, 31, Hermitage, Tenn.

At the time of the crash, the bus was occupied by three students aged 12 to 13 years old was on its way to the Fernwood Avenue Middle School. The school bus is equipped with high back seats and seat belts. The driver and children were not injured in the crash.

 McGrath and McTiernan suffered minor to moderate injuries and were transported to AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center Mainland Campus by Egg Harbor Township Ambulance Squad accompanied by AtlantiCare Paramedics.

 Traffic was detoured for approximately one and one half hours while the crash was being investigated and cleared. The crash is being investigated by Officesr Patrick Daly and Michael O’Hagan and Sgt. Albert N. Maiorano of the Egg Harbor Township Police Department. The conclusion of the investigation was pending the inspection of the school bus by state Department of Transportation inspectors.

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