Officials: 13 students injured after school bus overturns in North Carolina

Officials said a student was in critical condition Monday and 12 others were injured after a school bus carrying middle school students overturned in Alexander County.

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The incident happened just after 7:30 a.m. on Icard Ridge Road, near the Bethlehem community.

According to officials, the school bus was bound for West Alexander Middle School with 19 students on board when a Toyota car traveling in the opposite direction crossed the center line and collided with the bus. The impact from the crash reportedly caused the bus driver to veer off the roadway and the bus overturned.

 

Investigators said they charged Kimberly Austin, 56, with driving while impaired and driving left of center after the incident. Officials said there were no passengers in the Toyota at the time of the crash.

Austin was rushed to a hospital although authorities said the extent of her injuries was not immediately clear.

WSOC-TV's Dave Faherty reported 13 students and the bus driver were transported to the hospital with injuries ranging from bruises to broken bones. Officials said one student was in critical condition after the crash, but the student's injuries did not appear to be life-threatening.

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Six students were uninjured and taken to school after the crash, but many were picked up to be checked out by a doctor, state troopers said.

WSOC-TV spoke to a parent and one of the students on the bus, who described the crash.

“I was talking to my friends and then I hear people screaming,” student Autumn Birchfield said. “I look up and the bus is doing this and then we’re on the side.”

Autumn's mother, Jessica Birchfield, said she panicked when she learned about the crash.

“She was crying and really upset. The first thing she said was, 'Mom don’t panic', and I’m like, I’m panicking,” said Birchfield.

 

Children were able to escape or be removed from the bus through an emergency exit door, according to the North Carolina Highway Patrol.

The Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.

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