New Jersey

School Bus Driver Who Died in Crash While Driving Students Called Heroic

Denise Powell died when another car hit her bus. Two students were hurt, but not seriously

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What to Know

  • Two people were killed in a crash involving a school bus and a car in Pittsgrove Township, New Jersey, on Friday
  • One of those killed was a 20-year employee of the Pittsgrove school district
  • Two children on the bus were hospitalized as a precaution

A New Jersey school bus driver who died in a crash while driving elementary school students is being remembered as a hero.

Denise Powell, 60, was driving students from Olivet Elementary School in Pittsgrove Township, New Jersey, when her bus was hit by a driver who crossed into the bus' lane, state police said.

Both Powell and the car's driver, Pearl Caudill, 70, of Pittsgrove, were killed. The driver of another car was also injured.

Powell was also a cafeteria worker for Pittsgrove Township schools, according to Superintendent Matt Casey, who issued a statement Saturday.

"Mrs. Powell was a beloved member of our district for over 20 years," Casey's statement read. "The children loved her and her colleagues did as well. She passed serving the school community."

"Denise Powell is a hero," the statement concludes.

The school community is planning to wear purple on Monday to remember Powell.

Police are still investigating the accident, which happened at about 4 p.m. on County Road 540. Powell's bus was traveling eastbound and Caudill's Nissan and a Volkswagen were traveling westbound, police said.

The Nissan crossed over the center lines and struck the bus, police said. Both the bus and the Nissan crossed back into the westbound lanes, where they struck the Volkswagen.

Two students on the bus were sent to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, police said. The driver of the Volkswagen was also hospitalized with what police called "moderate" injuries.

On Monday as school reopened, grief counselors would be available to students and staff and everyone was encouraged to wear purple in Powell's memory.

Students at Olivet Elementary School in Pittsgrove Township, New Jersey, will wear purple as they grieve longtime school bus driver and cafeteria worker Denise Powell who was killed in a bus crash last week. NBC10's Miguel Martinez-Valle reports.
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