Basketball players in accident

By Ed Brock

A member of the Riverdale High School Raiders basketball team was injured Monday in an accident between a school bus carrying the team and a tractor-trailer.

Demarius Patrick, 18, was taken to Southern Regional Medical Center with an injury to his right arm following the accident that occurred around 5:06 p.m. in the eastbound lanes of I-285.

None of the other players or people on the bus were seriously injured.

The team was on its way to play Gwinnett County's Parkview High School for the Thanksgiving Holiday Classic Tournament and was entering the highway when the rear of the bus collided with the front bumper of the tractor-trailer, Raiders coach David Boyd said.

"This is a first," Boyd said. "I've been coaching for 22 years and we've never been hit before."

Boyd, in his first year of coaching the Riverdale team, said he was driving in a separate car.

Bus driver Adolphus Okonwo, 50, of Atlanta, was cited for improper lane change, Clayton County police Capt. Jeff Turner said. James Betts, 50, of DeKalb County said Okonwo came out in front of him and "ran out of real estate."

The whole bus tipped with the impact, passenger Michelle Lawal said. The right front bumper of the truck pushed in the left rear side panel of the bus, shattering a window and sending glass flying into the faces of the other players.

"The hardest hit was (Patrick)," Lawal said, adding that Patrick couldn't move his right side.

Turner said he did not know the extent of Patrick's injuries but said they were not life threatening.

Patrick's teammate 18-year-old Aramis Hardy saw it coming.

"I was like, everybody, here comes the truck, we're about to get hit," Hardy said.

Hardy said he was more worried about Patrick's condition than getting to the game.

"First things first. We've got to look out for our teammate," Hardy said.

Bryan Gates, 18, was ready to play if needed.

"I'm worried about him, but if we've got to play a game we have to go out there and give it our all," Gates said.

As a new bus arrived to pick up the players Boyd and other school officials decided to postpone the game until today.

Patrick also plays football for the school.