Ben Hill County school system thankful for quick response

BEN HILL CO., GA (WALB) - "We're thankful that the outcome was what it was," said Superintendent Nancy Whidden.

Ben Hill County School System leaders thank first-responders for their quick reaction after that serious bus crash Monday. Just one of the 41 elementary students on the bus when a semi slammed into it remains in the hospital. 10 year old Jacqueline Esteban is in good condition at a Macon Hospital.

Esteban has a broken foot and a fracture in her neck, but should make a full recovery. While school officials remain concerned about her, they're thankful the crash wasn't worse.

Highway 129 is back open in Ben Hill County, one day after a school bus full of children was hit.

"I heard the transmission on the radio from the driver that said, 'I've been hit by a semi,'" said Whidden.

Immediately dozens of city and county first responders arrived on scene--even nurses from a nearby nursing home rushed to the scene after seeing ambulances fly by.

"My team and the city and the county responders could not have done a better job in my opinion. We were just fortunate that there were no more injuries than there were," said Whidden.

Twenty-three kids went to the hospital by ambulance or private vehicle. Only Jacqueline Esteban remains hospitalized but her condition is improving.

"But she is in stable condition now and we feel like that she's going to be improving and hopefully be home before too long," said Whidden.

The hospital treated all the kids within 5 hours, while also caring for other patients in the E.R. Hospital officials say this accident proves the importance of rural hospitals.

"Sometimes, they get overlooked, but it's absolutely imperative that communities have hospitals to support whatever events may happen. They don't happen often, but when they do it's imperative that they get immediate healthcare," said Chief Operating Officer Stacie Mims.

Immediate care that helped students, soothed worried parents, and helped the school system get back to normal quickly. Whidden tells us that JB Hunt, the trucking company that owns that 18-wheeler, has offered to pay the medical expenses for the Esteban family and is conducting an internal investigation into the crash, but the company had no comment when we spoke with them.

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