Saratoga County

Stillwater school bus crash ‘could have been a lot worse’

Four children and a school bus driver escaped serious injury when the bus careened off the road,

PHOTOGRAPHER:

Four children and a school bus driver escaped serious injury when the bus careened off the road, severed a large tree and smashed into a parked car on the winding road around Saratoga Lake Wednesday afternoon.

The bus driver, identified only as Sara Schmidt by the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Department, lost consciousness, causing the bus to leave the road just before 3 p.m. The four students on the bus were being taken from private schools in Saratoga Springs to their homes in the Stillwater Central School District.

Schmidt and one of the students were taken by ambulance to area hospitals; Schmidt to Saratoga Hospital and the student to St. Peter’s Hospital in Albany. The driver was suffering from an unknown medical condition when transported, according to a sheriff’s department press release.

The student wears braces and was bleeding from the mouth after the crash, Stillwater Superintendent of Schools Stanley Maziejka said. It was believed the braces cut her mouth when the bus crashed, but she was being checked out at St. Peter’s just to be certain, he said.

“It was a very bad accident, but from what I gather, it could have been a lot worse,” Maziejka said.

Parents of the other three students came to pick them up at Panza’s Restaurant on Route 9P, where the accident happened.

Pastry chef Andria Cupolo was inside working when she and other employees heard what sounded like thunder outside. Restaurant owner Tony Panza’s Honda Pilot sport utility vehicle was parked out front and was totaled when the bus crashed into it.

The impact pushed the SUV into Cupolo’s Honda Accord, and she watched as firefighters dragged her car away from the SUV to minimize damage. It sustained only minor damage to the driver’s side door.

The children were calm after the crash but the bus driver appeared dazed, Cupolo said. “She was just sitting there bobbing her head.”

The bus was headed west on Route 9P when it left the south side of the road.

“Those kids were so brave,” said Laura Boiani, Panza’s niece who lives next door. “The one little one said, ‘This is my first accident.’

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