UPDATE: Two Whitfield County school buses crashed off APD 40 near Westland Drive in Cleveland on Thursday.

North Whitfield Middle School students were on a field trip to see a movie.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) says one of the buses stopped at a red light when the second bus rear-ended it.

The crash sent 24 people, 18 students and six adults, to hospitals.

"You get that call that you have had an accident of any kind, the first thing you always ask is 'was anybody hurt?' And when they say 'I don't know.' That elevates your concern immediately. Then they say 'yeah, we are going to have some transported,” Superintendent of Operations and Student Services Mike Ewton said.

Maintenance and Transportation Director Hal Taylor says this is a situation every bus driver fears.

"You know, 2000 children a day ride the school buses. Unfortunately, sooner or later, you are going to have to call first responders to come out to fender benders or serious things,” Taylor said.

Since a lot of people needed to be transported, Cleveland City Schools launched into action to help by sending a bus in to help transport people to Tennova Hospital.

"As part of the community and the school system, it's important to be there whenever they ask us for their help. Because we know eventually something is going to happen and we will have to ask them for help as well,” Taylor said.

The policy to aid during emergencies was started in 2015. If emergency crews call for aid, the school system can send buses and drivers.

Taylor says his drivers are trained for these situations.

"So, I think that's what you do. You just have to do things every day and that prepares you for helping out in those situations,” Taylor said.

North Whitfield Middle School Principal Larry Karner and Ewton are thankful for the quick aid and that no student was seriously injured.

"We appreciate that so much and also the transportation director of Bradley County Schools came by to offer assistance as well,” Ewton said.

The school system will investigate the crash.

Officials say they will do whatever they can to prevent this from happening again.

“I want them to have trust in us and faith in us. That's part of it when something like this happens. I want them to know that we have their child’s safety best interest at heart,” Karner said.

All students and staff involved have been sent home from the hospital and are expected to be okay.

As of now, no charges have been filed.

Stay with the WRCB app for updates to this story.


PREVIOUS UPDATE: Whitfield County School Officials say everyone is okay after two buses were involved in a crash in Cleveland this morning just after 9:00 a.m.

According to Whitfield County Schools Spokeswoman Kristina Horsley, there were 33 passengers on the two buses when one bus rear-ended the other bus at the intersection of APD 40 and Westland Drive.

Sgt. Alan Bailey with the Tennessee Highway Patrol says a tractor-trailer in front of the two buses stopped abruptly at a red light. The first bus was able to make a complete stop, however, the second bus was not.

He told Channel 3 that due to the circumstances, the driver was not cited.

“Right now, there’s no citation but of course that’s up to the investigating trooper. The last I talked to him he had just left the scene and went to Tennova. He may he finished there now but as of right now there's no charges to the second bus driver,” he said.

24 of the 33 passengers were taken to the hospital to be evaluated.

Josh Howell lives nearby the area. He told Channel 3 he didn’t see the crash but that it’s the second accident he’s aware of involving a tractor-trailer at that intersection.

He says as a father of six, he couldn’t imagine getting that call about an accident involving his own children.

“Especially involving buses, I’ve got six kids who are all in school, so that’s like ‘oh man’...that’s pretty serious. I’m glad no one was hurt.”

Horsley tells us the buses did not have seatbelts.

There were no serious injuries in the crash that fell on the three year anniversary of a deadly bus accident in Chattanooga that claimed the lives of six Woodmore Elementary School students.

Sgt. Bailey told Channel 3 that the incident is a lesson to drivers to use caution when driving behind tractor-trailers.

“The thing that sticks out with this crash with me is they were following a tractor-trailer. I would like to remind people when they follow a tractor-trailer to back up a little bit more room than you’d give other vehicles because you’d have a hard time seeing the red lights and stuff around,” he said.

School officials say parents were able to pick their children up from the hospital once they were cleared or from the school once buses dropped them back off.

 

 


PREVIOUS STORY: The Bradley County Sheriff's Office and the Tennessee Highway Patrol are responding to a two-school bus crash that happened on APD 40 near Westland Drive around 9:25 a.m.

There were 33 people on board. The buses are from Whitfield County, Georgia and the students are from North Whitfield Middle School.

According to the Tennessee Highway Patrol, the front bus, no. 634, stopped at a red light when it was rear-ended by the bus that was following, no. 281.

A representative with Whitfield County Schools says a tractor-trailer abruptly stopped at a red light in front of bus 634, forcing the bus to come to a complete stop.

22 students were transported to Tennova Hospital with minor injuries. A student and an adult were transported by ambulance to Erlanger Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

This is a developing story.