- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 6, 2006

ABERDEEN, Md. (AP) — Four children who were seriously injured when their school bus crashed on Interstate 95 were doing better yesterday, a hospital official said. One had been released.

The children were among nearly 60 people who were injured Wednesday when a bus carrying children from a field trip to the National Aquarium in Baltimore crashed on I-95 in northeastern Maryland.

An 8-year-old girl’s hand was severed in the crash, officials said.

“She was pinned, and rescuers had to break one of the windows to free her,” Rich Gardiner, a spokesman for Harford County Volunteer Fire and Emergency Medical Services, said late Wednesday. “When [rescuers] pulled her free, her hand had been amputated.”

The four seriously injured patients — ages 8, 9 and 10 — were flown to Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore. Their conditions improved overnight Wednesday, hospital spokesman David March said.

Three of the children were listed in good or fair condition yesterday, Mr. March said. One child was released.

The bus was one of six returning to Norris Square Day Camp in Philadelphia from the aquarium, said Sgt. David Jones of the Maryland State Police.

State police said the bus and another vehicle, the cab portion of a tractor-trailer, sideswiped each other.

The bus swerved into the median and back across both lanes of northbound I-95, turning over on its left side and coming to rest of the shoulder.

Mr. Gardiner said 53 persons with minor injuries were taken to Upper Chesapeake Medical Center in Bel Air, Harford Memorial Hospital in Havre de Grace, Union Hospital in Elkton, Franklin Square Hospital in Baltimore and Christiana Hospital in Newark, Del.

The cause of the accident remained under investigation, Maryland State Police spokesman Sgt. Thornnie Rouse said yesterday. The names of the drivers were not released, pending further investigation.

The school bus was driven by an 18-year-old man with a commercial license from Pennsylvania, Sgt. Rouse said. The truck was driven by a 41-year-old employee of a Baltimore firm.

All northbound lanes of I-95 in the Aberdeen area were closed after the 5 p.m. accident. The southbound lanes were closed for two hours and 40 minutes. The northbound lanes reopened five hours after the accident.

The bus lay on one side in the breakdown lane, and long skid marks could be seen from the median across several lanes of the highway.

Fire trucks blocked the highway. Emergency helicopters landed on the highway to pick up patients.

Drivers in cars stuck behind the congestion got out of their vehicles and walked along the highway, with traffic at a standstill.

Traffic was backed up as much as six miles in the southbound lanes, a spokesman at the Maryland Department of Transportation said. The northbound backup was shorter because traffic was diverted at two detours.

The bus that crashed had 60 persons on board, including three chaperones who didn’t need medical treatment.

The other five buses drove to the nearby Maryland House rest stop along the interstate to wait for road to reopen.

Officials for the day camp could not be reached for comment.

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