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School bus crashes with kids on board

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RICE TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WOLF) -- There were some terrifying moments for young children on a school bus on Thursday morning when it crashed into a guardrail.

We have more on why there were kids on the bus, and a look at the aftermath of the crash.

The bus company owner says the elementary-age students from a summer camp program at Wilkes-Barre Academy were looking forward to a fun day at Clyde Peeling's Reptiland.

They were supposed to be looking at snakes and lizards, but their field-trip plans came to a screeching halt not far out of town on Interstate 81.

"The driver was able to keep the bus upright," says Churnetski Transportation owner Larry Churnetski. "He took out a number of feet of guardrail. The important thing was the bus remained stable. It did not go over an embankment."

Churnetski says the bus was changing lanes to pass a UPS double-trailer truck with its flashers on, but suddenly, the UPS truck switched lanes and crashed into the bus, which was in the left lane.

State police say 22 children and five adult chaperones were on the bus when it crashed into the guardrail, including one child who was taken to the hospital with suspected minor injuries.

The crash happened in the southbound lanes near the Nuangola exit around 10 a.m. on Thursday.

Troopers say the driver of the UPS freight truck, identified as Garfield Beamon, New Windsor, N.Y., did not see the bus in the left lane and made an unsafe lane change.

"It's terrible. We're in the business of transporting children. This is what gives school bus operators nightmares," says Churnetski.

A manager at the Wilkes-Barre Academy did not want to comment much, but she did tell us that all the kids are OK.

Another bus came to pick them up and take them back to Wilkes-Barre. The school bus driver was identified as Robert Metcalf, HanoverTownship.

"It's rather difficult to believe that something the size of a full-size bus would be in a blind spot," says Churnetski.

Since school is starting on Tuesday, the camp is ending and it appears the kids won't have a chance to go on their field trip.

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