Police: Children injured in Wilmot bus crash tried unsuccessfully to get help
Children who were on a school bus when it crashed in Wilmot Township on Nov. 12 told EMTs they were injured, but the bus driver drove the bus away - with them aboard - before they could be examined, according to the state police.
And the bus driver, 47-year-old Penny Gorens of the Dushore area, had a cell phone in her hand at the time of the accident, which is illegal, state police at Towanda said.
These are some of the details about the accident that are contained in a criminal complaint that the state police filed against Gorens on Dec. 6 with District Justice Fred Wheaton in Wysox.
The criminal complaint charges Gorens with the misdemeanors of endangering the welfare of children and leaving the scene of an accident in which people were injured.
One of the children on the bus, Kallee E. Norton, told police that as she sat on the bus, she stuck her head out of the window to ask an EMT to check her head, because it hurt from striking a metal window frame during the crash, according to the complaint.
Norton reported that the EMT then told her, "I'm sorry kid, she (Gorens) told me everyone was fine," according to the complaint.
Norton told the police that she was evaluated at Memorial Hospital's emergency room right after the crash for a head injury, according to the complaint.
Norton reported that she continued to have a headache the following day, and that when the school nurse evaluated her, she had pupils that were noticeably different in size from each other, the complaint states.
Norton then returned to Memorial Hospital for a CT scan, according to police.
According to state police, Gorens was driving a Wyalusing School District bus at an unsafe speed when she turned from Burke Road onto Cotter Road at 4 p.m. on Nov. 12 and lost control of the vehicle,
The bus, which had children aboard, left the roadway and drove off a 7-foot embankment into a field, police said.
State police said that children on the bus told them that Gorens asked the very young children in the front of the bus if they were all right, but never checked the condition of the older children in the back of the bus.
Despite being told that 911 had been called, Gorens drove the bus away from scene of the accident with the children still on it, before EMTs arrived had arrived on scene, the complaint states.
As the bus left the scene, it passed an arriving ambulance, but when the children told Gorens that the ambulance was for them, she did not stop, the complaint states.
In fact, one of the students, Janelle Cummisky, told police that she felt the bus speed up as at that time, the complaint states.
One of the EMTs heading to the scene of the crash, Claud W. White, told police that he saw the bus traveling in the opposite direction at approximately 50 m.p.h. or more, the complaint states.
White told the police that the bus was "flying," according to the complaint.
Emergency personnel caught up to Gorens at a bus turnaround, where they had to "box her in" with their vehicles to prevent her from leaving, children told the police.
The children's account was confirmed by White, who told police that Wilmot Fire Company chiefs had to block the bus when it finally came to a stop at the turnaround, the complaint states.
White told police that when he asked Gorens if he could board the bus to check out the children, Gorens told him, "no" and said that the children were fine, the complaint states.
In fact, White told police that Gorens was very adamant at that time that the children were OK, the complaint states.
White told police that as he started to walk toward the rear of the bus, he heard a couple of children tell him, "We're not fine," according to the complaint.
White then tried to get back on the bus, but Gorens pulled out and drove off, according to the police.
Another child on the bus, Drayton Smith, told police that he informed Gorens that he hurt his head during the crash, but did not get a response from Gorens, the complaint states.
Gorens was also cited for a number of summary offenses in connection with the crash, including driving at an unsafe speed, careless driving, making false reports and a charge of unlawful acts, specifically operating a school bus while holding a cell phone, police said.
A total of 40 children were on the bus when the accident occurred.
None of the children were seriously injured, according to Wyalusing Superintendent Chester Mummau.
Gorens has been sent a summons ordering her to appear for a preliminary hearing on Jan. 29 before Judge Wheaton.
James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.