- The Washington Times - Friday, January 2, 2004

Three men were killed in Montgomery County yesterday when the car they were riding in crashed into a bus carrying mentally challenged passengers to a job-training site.

The crash occurred shortly before 9 a.m. in the 1700 block of Bonifant Road in Layhill, about a half-mile from the National Capital Trolley Museum, said Montgomery County fire department spokesman Pete Piringer.

A county police spokeswoman said the department’s Collision Reconstruction Section is trying to determine what caused the crash involving a Ford Escort and the bus owned by the Arc of Montgomery County.

“It appears that [the driver of the car] lost control and came across the center line and struck the side of [the bus],” Montgomery County police spokesman Officer Derek Baliles told WTOP Radio.

The wet weather may have played a role in the crash on the winding road, Mr. Piringer said.

Mr. Piringer said people in the red Escort had to be cut out of the car. The driver of the Escort was pronounced dead at the scene.

One of the two passengers was flown to Suburban Hospital’s trauma center, where he was pronounced dead, the spokeswoman said. The other passenger was flown to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, where he later died.

The names of the three men were not immediately released.

The bus was carrying 10 persons, including eight mentally challenged passengers, said Fred Baughman, executive director of the ARC.

A passenger on the bus suffered three cracked ribs and an aide suffered minor bruises and cuts, Mr. Baughman said. The injuries appeared to be not life-threatening.

The bus driver and the other passengers were examined and released.

The accident occurred less than 10 miles from the Arc headquarters, at 11600 Nebel St. in Rockville. The bus was driving the passengers to a job-training site in Rockville.

The Arc, formerly known as the Association for Retarded Citizens of the United States, is the national organization of people with mental challenges and related developmental disabilities and their families.

Founded in 1950 by parents and other concerned individuals, the group’s mission is to change public perception of mentally challenged children and to procure services for children and adults who were denied day care, preschool, education and work programs.

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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