Saint John, NB Bus Crash, Apr 1984


By J. M. Hirsch
Associated Press Writer.

Saint John, New Brunswick - Students from a Massachusetts school left for home as investigators tried to find the cause of a tour bus crash that killed four of their classmates en route to a concert and band competition in Canada.
The bus carrying 42 students from Oak Hill Middle School in Newton, Mass., skidded off a highway exit in New Brunswick, flipped several times and came to rest on its side, police said. Most of the children were sleeping at the time.
"They woke up, and they noticed something out of the ordinary," said Hank Van Putten, Oak Hill assistant principal, who flew to Canada with parents of the children Friday. "One student said there was a bump, another said that they woke up and felt they were tipping over."
Dozens of passengers were hurt. Most were treated at a hospital for bumps and bruises and released, and nearly all returned to Massachusetts late Friday or were due back Saturday. Teachers and parents had flown to Saint John in the afternoon to be with their children.
"I know that the parents are very glad to see their children, and the children were very glad to see their parents," Van Putten said.
"For some of them, they were back to normal almost immediately, playing with wheelchairs up and down the hallways. For others, it might take a bit longer."
Two of three planes bringing the children and relatives back to Massachusetts landed at Hanscom Airport near Bedford, Mass., at about 8:30 p.m. The rest of the children, as well as the bodies of the four victims, were due to arrive early Saturday morning.
The students killed were identified as:
MELISSA'S mother was a chaperone on the trip, Newton Mayor David Cohen said.
"The band was the best thing in their lives - KAYLA loved it," her father told The Boston Globe in a brief interview. "They were all so happy to be going to the concert, and had really been looking forward to it."
The returning families, kept away from journalists by state officials, were received by grief counselors and urged to attend counseling sessions at their school over the weekend, American Red Cross officials said.
"It's starting to sink in that they've actually lost friends," said Red Cross spokeswoman Renita K. Hosler. "As kids start to absorb the information we want them to have someone to talk to."
A female student remained hospitalized overnight with head trauma at Saint John Regional Hospital and was expected to be discharged this morning, said Charles Pozner, a doctor at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston who traveled to Saint John to assist the families.
An adult male passenger who suffered a fractured pelvis was being flown to Boston on a separate flight that was arranged because he could not sit on a regular airplane seat.
The children, aged 10 to 13, were on their way to Gaetz Brook Junion High School outside Halifax to participate in a band concert and competition.

Indiana Gazette Pennsylvania 1984-05-01