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Students, driver OK after bus overturns
Hall school bus ran off road and overturned
Crews work on an overturned Hall County school bus on East Hall Road near its intersection with Joe Chandler Road. - photo by MICHELLE JAMESON

Fifteen students from East Hall High School and their school bus driver were treated and released from a local hospital Friday after the bus drove off the side of the road and overturned.

The accident happened about 8 a.m. on East Hall Road, just more than a mile from the high school.

None of the injuries were considered serious. School officials said Friday they were thankful the accident was not worse.

"We have really dodged a bullet," Superintendent Will Schofield said. "This could have been much worse."

A total of 22 students, all from the high school, were on bus No. 9725 when it overturned. The bus has just dropped some students at East Hall Middle School.

A spokesman for the Georgia State Patrol, which isinvestigating the accident, said the bus driver, 55-year-old Doug McClure, suffered a medical situation that caused him to pass out at the wheel. The bus was apparently moving at a slow speed when it ran off the right shoulder of East Hall Road, just east of Joe Chandler Road. The bus then flipped onto its right side.

McClure has been driving buses in the East Hall district since 2008. He had a spotless driving record with no accidents prior to today, said Jewel Armour, executive director of transportation for the school system.

Gordon Higgins, spokesman for the system, said McClure suffered bruises on his face and head. But Higgins said he was more concerned with the well being of students on his bus.

Officials said help arrived almost immediately after the accident and included several teachers from the high school.

Following the accident, McClure and a female student who complained of neck pain, were transported by ambulance to Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville as a precaution. Another 14 students were taken to the hospital in a second bus that was brought to the scene. They were accompanied by Principal Jeff Cooper and other administrators from East Hall High.

Shortly before noon, all of the students had been checked at the hospital and released to their parents, said Melissa Tymchuk, a hospital spokeswoman.

The other seven students were checked out at the scene and cleared to go on to school.

Schofield said he was grateful all the students were safe, and he thanked emergency officials for their response.

"This is the worst nightmare for someone who works in the schools," Schofield said.

"It's an important responsibility to be entrusted with someone's children, and it's not a good day when something like this happens. We are very thankful that everyone will be OK."