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Sullivan school bus driver could face charges in crash with pickup

Rick Wagner • Sep 5, 2018 at 5:30 PM

BLUFF CITY — A Kingsport woman who was driving a contracted bus for Sullivan County Schools could face charges for allegedly pulling in front of a pickup driven by an Elizabethton man Tuesday afternoon. The ensuing crash injured the man, who was airlifted to a hospital.

The Chevrolet truck T-boned school bus No. 226 near the intersection of Highway 19-E and Osbornes Drive, also known as Osbornes Private Drive. Pickup driver Roger Hamm, 80, was taken by helicopter to a local hospital, while bus driver Elizabeth Dubbs, 47, and three students aboard the Sullivan East High School bus were uninjured, authorities said. 

Hamm was the sole occupant of the pickup, a preliminary Tennessee Highway Patrol report said.

“School bus pulled in front of Chevy pickup,” the report noted. “School bus driver was compliant and agreed to voluntary blood test.”

According to Ballad Health Director of Communications Teresa Hicks, Hamm was in stable condition Wednesday afternoon at Johnson City Medical Center.

On Wednesday afternoon, Sullivan County Director of Schools Evelyn Rafalowski said the driver, an employee of Kingsport-based C&S Transit Inc., “is currently not driving a bus for Sullivan County Schools” and that another bus and driver were covering the route of No. 226.

According to the THP, the crash occurred about 3:15 p.m. near Miller Tire & Recapping, 1333 Highway 19-E. The four-lane road was blocked in both directions and later partially blocked for awhile after the wreck.

Rafalowski said she had suggested all occupants of the bus go to the hospital “just as a precaution,” but she didn’t know how many, if any, went. A THP spokesman Wednesday said the bus driver had a superficial injury but declined treatment.

The report indicates that charges against Dubbs may be pending from the Sullivan County District Attorney’s Office,  but none are pending against Hamm. The report indicated both drivers were wearing a seatbelt. The students were not, but Tennessee law does not require seatbelts on school buses, and regular Sullivan County buses, such as No. 226, do not have them.

 

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