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Bus driver charged after woman dies, 6 kids hurt in North Hall wreck involving school bus
Witness says victim died instantly
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Hall County Sheriff's Office deputies work at the site of a fatal wreck Tuesday afternoon involving a school bus and a passenger vehicle on Cleveland Highway at Whitmire Circle in North Hall County. - photo by Erin O. Smith

One person is dead and six children suffered minor injuries Tuesday after a Hall County school bus hit a passenger car near the intersection of Cleveland Highway and Whitmire Circle in North Hall County.

The driver of the passenger car, Sabrina Tench, 52, of Cleveland was reported dead on scene, according to Deputy Fire Chief Chad Black of Hall County Fire Services and Hall County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Deputy Nicole Bailes.

Bus driver Vanessa Clark, 56, of Clermont was charged with second-degree vehicular homicide and failure to yield after a stop sign, Georgia State Patrol Cpl. A.J. Allen said.

The injured children were treated at Northeast Georgia Medical Center. Hall County School District spokesman Gordon Higgins said all students had been treated and released around 7 p.m. Tuesday.

The bus was carrying 31 students from Wauka Mountain Multiple Intelligences Academy around 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, Higgins said.

The bus attempted to make a left turn after stopping at a stop sign on Whitmire Circle as Tench approached in a 2000 Mitsubishi Galant.

Students at the scene were visibly shaken up. Those uninjured were picked up by their parents and relatives, while others were loaded onto another bus.

Trevor Huth, who works at American Pawn located near the accident site, said he heard the crash and ran out with a crowbar to help.

“It just sounded like a bomb going off,” he added.

Huth said he believed the bus pulled in front of the car on Cleveland Highway, running it over completely and leaving a mangle of wreckage and broken axles.

“We tried to get her door open,” Huth said, adding that it was clear the woman had died immediately.

“She was not responsive,” Huth said, adding that an off-duty nurse checked for vital signs while he was present. “No pulse.”

Hall County Superintendent Will Schofield traveled to Northeast Georgia Medical Center with Wauka Mountain Principal Jo Dinnan. Schofield said the children had no visible injuries and had common complaints of hurt backs, legs and noses.

The driver of the bus was OK but shaken up, Schofield said.

“(Clark) is a veteran driver that has been with us for a significant amount of time,” he said.

The bus had significant damage along its side as well as the rear drivetrain, Schofield said. The bus will be impounded and inspected by Georgia State Patrol.

“That bus will be out of commission for a while, I’d assume,” Schofield said.

Ellen Williams came to pick up her 6-year-old nephew at the scene of the crash.

“Obviously, it’s a very big shock,” she said of the incident.

Her nephew, Brently Allen, 6, hit his face on the window and was a little bruised but heading home.

“It’s a very tragic scene up here in North Hall County today,” Higgins said. “We are saddened by the fatality. Our prayers go out to the family of the victim.”

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