Student condition upgraded after school bus crash

Student condition upgraded after school bus crash
42 students were on the bus at the time.
42 students were on the bus at the time.

BEN HILL CO., GA (WALB) - The mother of a Ben Hill County student credits the school bus driver for her quick action just seconds before a serious crash happened.

A semi-truck slammed into the back of the school bus.

There were dozens of students on board at the time.

Jessica Layton's son, Justin Strickland was one of those students on the bus. It had just pulled up to his stop on Monday.

But right before he was about to exit the bus, the driver noticed an 18-wheeler barreling toward them. She immediately grabbed him before he could get off of the bus. That bus driver was later identified as Candace Dykes.

"Mrs. Dykes is a hero. Yes, she is a hero. She snatched my son back. 'Cause he was fixing to step off that bus when that truck was coming, and he wouldn't be here today if she didn't," said Layton.

Georgia State Patrol said the driver of the semi, 47-year-old Frederic Woods never stopped his truck.

It slammed into the back of the bus before tearing through grass on the side of Highway 129.

23 of the 42 kids on the bus went to Dorminy Medical Center. Nine of the students were transported there by emergency crews. Others came by private vehicle.

22 of the students were discharged as of Tuesday.

One girl, identified as 10-year-old Jacqueline Esteban, was taken to Navicent Medical Center in Macon. She was listed in good condition Tuesday morning.

The school system confirmed Tuesday that Jacqueline had a fractured foot, fractured neck, and several cuts on her face.

"It could've been very much worse," said Ben Hill County Sheriff Bobby McLemore.

Other parents agree.

"I'm glad that we could, you know, walk away from this and smile because it could have been, like I said, it could have been a lot, a lot, lot worse," said mother Annie Anderson.

Troopers say multiple charges are pending against Woods. He was not hurt in the crash.

JB Hunt contacted the families of the injured students, and told the Superintendent Whidden that they would pay for medical expenses for the family, including fuel costs to and from Macon, food money, and lodging.

Superintendent Whidden said she is thankful for the quick response from law enforcement and the community.

She says the students and driver did everything correctly when it comes to how to react in an accident.

Meanwhile, Ben Hill County Schools Superintendent Nancy Whidden said the trucking company, JB Hunt was in town and conducting their own investigation.

Officials said counselors were at the school Tuesday to help with students reaction to the crash.

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