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Bus accident sends 13 Pender County students to hospital

PENDER COUNTY -- Thirteen Pender County students went to the hospital Thursday morning after their bus ran off the road into a ditch. The bus was taking students to two different schools around 8:40 Thursday morning: Pender Success Academy and Pender Early College. One student on the bus told me that the bus driver's erratic driving has scared her in the past. Fifteen-year-old Sherry Baker was on board and went to the hospital with neck injuries. Baker says the driver, Linda Colvin, was speeding when she made a quick left-hand turn from South Smith Street onto West Clark Street, which sent the bus off the road and into the ditch. Police say Colvin told them a car was stopped at a stop sign and she tried to get around it. Either way, police say she she's at fault and issued her a safe movement violation. Baker says she has complained to her parents several times about Colvin's driving. Her father, Steve Gagnier, says he even followed the bus one day and had to drive erratically himself just to keep up. Baker says she doesn't want to ride on another bus driven by Colvin. She said, "Everybody that was on the side that went into the ditch was thrown against the window, and all the other kids were thrown into the kids that were against the window. She had stood up after we got in the ditch, she tried to open the door but she couldn't open it so she started laughing and told us to leave out the back door." Transportation Director Ricky Carter says when a citation is issued to a bus driver the driver can legally keep driving until there is a conviction. He says it's up to the county whether to replace, suspend or fire the driver. Gagnier says when he complained to the Board of Education he was told Colvin had received other complaints and that it would be taken care of. The bus wasn't damaged and was back on the road this afternoon.

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