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Car collides with school bus, eight students taken to hospital for evaluation

FORT KENT, Maine — No students were seriously injured, but eight were taken to the hospital to be evaluated after a car collided Tuesday afternoon with a school bus in New Canada, according to officials with School Administrative District 27.

For precautionary measures, school officials took eight of the students to Northern Maine Medical Center after they reported hitting their heads on the back of the bus seats during the accident, according to a message posted by SAD 27 Superintendent Ben Sirois on the school district’s web site.

The female driver of the car, who was not identified and was the lone occupant, managed to exit the vehicle on her own, Fort Kent Fire Department Chief Ed Endee said from the scene near Daigle Pond in New Canada. He said she did not appear to have suffered any major injuries but was transported by Ambulance Service Inc. to NMMC.

The accident happened at about 2:15 p.m. “when a car suddenly moved into the lane the bus was traveling,” according to Sirois’ message.

John Kaleta, principal of Fort Community High School and Valley Rivers Middle School, said later that afternoon that the car struck the front side of the bus, causing some students to be jostled around and hit their heads.

“It rocked the bus,” Kaleta said.

The bus was one of two SAD 27 buses carrying seventh and eighth grade students from Valley Rivers Middle School returning to Fort Kent following an all-day field trip to Carbou, where they visited the National Weather Service facility and Nylander Museum.

Kaleta said the second bus was a few minutes behind and not involved in the accident.

Another bus was dispatched to the scene to return the students to school where counselors were waiting to talk to anyone shaken up by the accident.

All parents of students on the field trip were notified either directly or via the school’s automated alert system.

The principal said that eight students were taken by SAD 27 to NMMC for precautionary measures, but as of 4 p.m., he was not aware of any injuries. No seat belts are used or required on school buses.

Although no classes are scheduled Wednesday because of the Thanksgiving holiday, Kaleta and Sirois indicated that counselors also would  be on hand at the school beginning at 8 a.m. to talk with students who were shaken up by the accident if they wanted to speak to anyone.

Members of the Fort Kent Fire Department responded to the scene with two engines and the rescue truck. The firefighters assisted members of Ambulance Service Inc. with the female patient, helped out with traffic control and cleaned up glass and other debris from the scene.

The Maine State Police are investigating but were not immediately available for comment. Members of the Aroostook County Sheriff’s Office also assisted at the scene.

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