64 students sent to hospital after chain reaction crash of buses - 5/19/12

COVINGTON, Ga. -

A chain reaction crash of buses on Interstate 20 just west of the Georgia Highway 11 sent 64 students to the hospital Saturday morning. 

Police and emergency officials had to close the westbound lanes of the interstate for several hours while they worked the scene. A total of six buses and one other vehicle was involved in the accident.

A spokesperson for the Georgia State Patrols tells FOX 5 News that the accident was sparked by slowing traffic due to a lane closure a half mile ahead of the accident. As the first bus slowed, the second bus struck the back of the first bus starting the series of rear end accidents. The chain reaction ended with a passenger vehicle bumping into the back of the rear bus.

Police say Angela Anthony, 44, of Midville, had to be cut out of the bus she was driving. She was flown to Grady Memorial Hospital with serious injuries. 

Officials say most of the students who were taken to the hospital complained of bruises, cuts, and other minor injuries. Most of the students were able to be released a few hours later.

The buses were part of a caravan of sixth and seventh graders from Burke County middle schools who were being rewarded for high scores on their CRCT testing with a trip to Six Flags. School officials say about 320 people including those 260 students were among spread among the buses. Bus drivers, school employees and parents made up the remainder of those aboard.

Emergency officials used Newton County High School as a staging area for the rest of the students, parents, and school employees who were not injured. They stayed there until they could work out how they could get them safely back home.

All westbound lanes of Interstate 20 were closed for several hours while crews worked to clean up the wreck. A special accident reconstruction team was called into try to determine the exact cause of the accident.

The Georgia State Patrol says the accident remains under investigation.