MONTGOMERY, W.Va. -- Fifteen students were sent to the hospital Wednesday after a school bus veered off the road and struck a mountainside in Montgomery.
Montgomery Deputy Fire Chief Benny Filiaggi said none of the students was seriously injured, and that the 15 transports to the hospital were for precautionary measures only. He labeled the students as "walking wounded."
Students were transported to Montgomery General Hospital and Charleston Area Medical Center.
"All were stable, all were walking, all precautionary," said Filiaggi, who, among others, responded to the scene. "It was basically a minor incident. The bus did go off the road a bit."
Filiaggi said all of the students involved in the incident, which happened on Route 61 just past the West Virginia University Tech campus near the Montgomery Bridge overpass, were checked out by emergency personnel before being released to their parents.
A Fayette County 911 dispatcher said the school bus driver hit a telephone pole at about 3 p.m. and no other vehicles were involved. There was "significant damage" to the school bus, Filiaggi said.
Gary Hough, Director of Transportation and School Services for Fayette County, did not release the name of the bus driver, and said the cause of the wreck is under investigation.
The driver will undergo drug testing, as well as other analyses by school officials and police, Hough said.
If a school bus driver were to be found under the influence of drugs or alcohol while operating a bus, "they would lose their job immediately," Hough said.
"All we know is that the bus apparently got off on the edge of the road . . . and got caught in a ditch. At this point, we're more concerned about student safety," he said. "The main thing is safety and to make sure we keep kids safe. That's our priority."
Hough said parents showed up at the scene to check on their children, and some were panicked.
"Our drivers are trained, tested and checked all the time. We pray everyday we don't have incidents like this, and when they do occur, it's a tough situation for all of us," he said. "We just told [parents] we're here to look after kids and told them we'll do what we need to do."
Reach Mackenzie Mays at 304-348-4814 or mackenzie.m...@wvgazette.com.