Driver dies when car hits school bus

By Ed Brock

When a car slammed into his school bus Wednesday morning, 17-year-old Antwan Jackson thought about a similar accident on Monday that took the life of two other teen-agers.

So Jackson and another student went to help while most of the other students on the bus cleared off for fear of an explosion.

"I just felt like if it was me I'd want someone to help me as soon as possible," Jackson said. "I was pretty sure he would be hurt more than anybody else on the bus."

But the driver of the 1983 Cadillac Deville, 31-year-old Corey Blackmon of East Point, died from the head trauma he sustained in the accident that occurred around 8:10 a.m. on Riverdale Road, Clayton County police spokesman Capt. Jeff Turner said. Three of the 18 students on the bus, which was on its way to North Clayton High School, received minor injuries in the accident and were taken to Southern Regional Medical Center.

The accident occurred when the driver of the school bus, Avis Williams, 31, of Decatur, was attempting to turn north onto Riverdale Road from East Fayetteville Road and she pulled out in front of Blackmon who was driving south on Riverdale Road.

No charges have been filed in the incident, but the investigation is continuing, Turner said.

The accident was the second fatal collision between a car and a school bus in two days.

On Monday morning Lovejoy High School students Darren Brooks, 16, and Justin Phillips, 15, died when Brooks lost control of the car he was driving on McDonough Road and hit a school bus with no occupants head-on.

Two other passengers in that car, Armonne Gallow and Kenneth Colvin, both 15, were injured.

Colvin remained in critical condition at Atlanta Medical Center in Atlanta as of Tuesday and Gallow was in stable condition, hospital spokeswoman Adrienne Wade said.

Clayton County Schools Director of Transportation Michael Jennings said that was the first fatal accident involving a school bus that occurred during his 14 years with the county.

Jackson said he was sitting on the opposite side of the bus from where the impact occurred Wednesday, listening to music on his headphones.

"When we pulled out I heard everyone screaming like they saw the car coming," Jackson said.

After the impact there was "pandemonium," Jackson said, and Williams appeared to be in shock and unable to open the emergency doors. The students began to run away from the bus after getting out, but Jackson and another student went to Blackmon's aid, attempting to remove him from the car in case it did explode.

At first Jackson could not feel Blackmon's pulse, but then it returned and he thought Blackmon might make it, and he was surprised to hear Blackmon had died.

Williams was in her first year of employment as a bus driver with the county, said the county's Assistant Superintendent of Auxiliary Services Ronnie Blake. Blake said he wasn't sure if Williams had experience driving buses somewhere else but the county's drivers usually receive about 15 days of "extensive" training.

Williams is on leave pending an investigation by the county's transportation department, Blake said.

Jackson said Williams was "pretty much a fine driver" and he thinks there should be a light at the intersection where the accident occurred.

"I'm not sure who was at fault," Jackson said.

He plans to ride the bus again to school today, and he also wants to go to Blackmon's funeral.

"I feel like one of my own family members died," Jackson said.