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School bus involved in accident

By Ed Brock

A Tuesday morning collision between a Clayton County school bus and a tractor-trailer sent five teen-age students to the hospital and came one week after a similar accident.

The bus, carrying 15 students to the Clayton County Alternative School in Jonesboro, was traveling west on Fielder Road around 6:49 a.m. and the tractor-trailer was driving south on Mt. Zion Parkway, Clayton County police Sgt. Brian Busch said.

"When they got to the intersection the bus hit the tractor-trailer on the front left corner of the trailer," Busch said.

Busch said police are still investigating which vehicle had the green light at the time of the accident and charges may be issued in the incident.

The students, who were between 13 and 15 years old, were taken to Southern Regional Medical Center with complaints of injuries and were released later that morning. Busch said there were no adults injured in the accident. But the bus driver, Jo Ann Thomas, was taken to Concentra Medical Center in Morrow as part of the school system's standard operating procedure, according to Clayton County Public Schools spokesman Jerry Jackson.

Thomas has been driving for the school system since October 1992.

Another bus took the remaining 10 students to the school.

On Nov. 24 a bus carrying members of the Riverdale High School basketball team on their way to a game was involved in an accident on I-285. The bus was merging onto the interstate when it collided with a tractor-trailer.

Demarius Patrick, 18, was taken to the hospital with an injury to his arm and later released. The bus driver, 50-year-old Adolphus Okonwo of Atlanta, was cited for improper lane change.

The school system's accident review board will hear the details of both accidents and any action taken against the drivers would be decided then, Assistant School Superintendent Ronnie Blake said. Even if the accidents are the drivers' fault they will not necessarily be terminated.

"A lot of things play into that. It's not just a one time event," Blake said.

Blake said that the county's bus drivers undergo 15 days of training and he does not think there is a problem with the drivers. He did point to the increasing traffic on the roads that comes with the county's growth.

"It's just a major undertaking now to bring the buses out in traffic," Blake said.