NBC10Philadelphia.com - Rosemary Connors
A dozen are injured and one person dead after a school bus and a pick-up truck collide in Toms River, Ocean County. Eleven middle school students from Toms River Intermediate East School, and their bus driver, suffered minor injuries. The driver of the pick-up truck, who was just a few blocks from his home, was killed. One student who was on the bus spoke to NBC 10 about the terrifying crash. The Toms River Police Department, the Prosecutor's Office and the State Police are investigating the accident.
A 60-year-old man is dead after a school bus and pickup truck crashed in Toms River, New Jersey on Thursday afternoon. Eleven students as well as the bus driver were treated and released from the hospital. Thomas Grouss, the driver of the pickup truck, was seriously hurt in the accident. He later died from his injuries, according to police.
The crash happened at Fischer Boulevard and Yellowbank Road at 2:26 p.m., according to police. Investigators say a school bus carrying 34 students was traveling southbound on Fischer after leaving Toms River Intermediate East. Suddenly it collided with a pickup truck traveling northbound on Fischer and attempting to turn left onto Yellowbank, according to investigators.
Police say the crash caused the bus to strike a traffic stanchion and a parked car. The driver of the bus and 11 students were taken to the Community Medical Center in Toms River where they were treated and released for minor injuries. One of those injured students was 8th grader Lucy Ann Degrazio who suffered a bruised wrist. Degrazio was sitting in the front passenger seat of the bus during the crash.
"I just held on to the pole because I was in the front seat and I thought I would go flying out the window," said Degrazio. "All the kids fell off their chair and they were all on top of each other."
School officials helped transport students who were not injured back to the school and reunited them with their parents. Investigators also say that while the bus was equipped with seat belts, some of the students admitted to not wearing them.
Police say Grouss was a recently retired electrician who lived less than a quarter mile away from the accident. He is survived by a wife, children and grandchildren.
"He always said hello to me every morning," said his neighbor Luis Osorio. "He was a very nice guy."
The Prosecutor's Office, State Police, and the Tom's River Police Department are all investigating the crash.
The school district put out this statement late in the day:
There was a serious motor vehicle accident in the afternoon bus run leaving Intermediate East on April 5, 2012 at the corner of Yellow Bank and Fischer Blvd. There were no serious student injuries, however the driver of the bus and nine students were transported to the hospital as a precautionary measure. All other students were screened by three school nurses and released to their parents. Any parent whose child was riding in BUS 101 and feels their child is in need of counseling services, please contact the following resources:
TLC (732) 773- 8007, Pess (732) 886-4474, Mobile Resources (1-877) 652-7624
We've had several school bus accidents in the area in the last two months. Most have happened in New Jersey, which has some of the strictest school bus safety standards in the country.
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