Wetzel County Sheriff's Office Corporal Mike Koontz confirmed that a vehicle accident involving a bus occurred Monday morning in Wetzel County on the southeast side of Slim Chance Hill.
Koontz stated that the accident occurred at approximately 7:30 a.m. Monday morning and involved a bus, headed toward New Martinsville, as well as a flat bed tractor trailer headed south toward Pine Grove. Koontz stated that no injuries were reported and that there were only minor, cosmetic damages to the bus.
Koontz stated that traffic was not officially re-routed, but the road was closed for approximately an hour. He stated that he believes some people diverted across Turkey Run.
The driver of a semi truck was cited for driving left of center after this collision with a Wetzel County school bus Monday morning. (Photo provided by Keith Nelsen)
The Wetzel County Sheriff's Department, Wetzel County EMS, and New Martinsville Volunteer Fire Department all responded to the accident. Koontz stated that the driver received a citation for being left of center and that Deputy Donald Bordenkircher is the investigating officer in the matter.
Wetzel County Director of Ancillary Services Brian Jones is, first and foremost, thankful that no one was hurt. He does, however, express some frustration with the oil and gas industry
"You know, what the headline should read, is 'No injuries,'" Jones stated. "Praise God that no one's hurt or there's not a fatality . . . That's what I look at first and foremost," he stated.
"I would say that we work cooperatively with the oil and gas industry and want to continue," Jones added. He stated that he calls both radio and television stations when there's a delay or cancellation and has contacts in the oil and gas industry as well. "There are people in the oil and gas industry on our automated school messenger," said Jones. "We have a great desire to work together, but we have got to keep our kids safe. This is the second accident on Route 20 in which a large truck came in contact with the bus-same route, same bunch of kids, same driver."
Jones also cited the Oil and Gas Task Force meetings, stating "There's a meeting Friday, out at the Mollohan Center at the 4-H camp in which we will attend . . . We just want to raise an awareness that our children are on our buses and what time they are on the roads." Jones said he always attends the meetings, but added, "I want the industry to be aware that we have had two accidents in 57 school days. I want the industry to be aware that we've had recent road blockages due to trucks that have tippover on the road . . . If a truck is laying on its side, leave it on its side until I run my buses. Don't try to set that 'puppy' up at 2:30. Don't leave our kids stranded. I'm speaking on behalf of the community." Jones cited a recent incident where a truck was lying tipped over at the foot of Long Point. "I went out and spoke to the gentleman. I told him our buses are going through at 3:25 p.m. He said to call him at 15 minutes prior to that." Jones stated he called the gentleman, but, regardless, "They set the truck at their convenience, and at our kids expense."
"We are concerned," Jones stated. "We continue to be concerned about the safety of our students and staff, and we will continue to work cooperatively with the industry in the area."