Driver in Anderson County school bus crash speaks to 6 News

Driver in Anderson County school bus crash recalls the terrifying moments

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The bus driver was able to miss a telephone pole and creek before crashing in this field. The bus driver was able to miss a telephone pole and creek before crashing in this field.
"I thought it wasn't even reality. I'm like, 'Is this really going on right now?' All the high schoolers actually came running for us elementary students," said student Justin Winsbro. "I thought it wasn't even reality. I'm like, 'Is this really going on right now?' All the high schoolers actually came running for us elementary students," said student Justin Winsbro.
Bus driver Tammy Moore says her only thought was the 43 children on her bus when it flipped over. Bus driver Tammy Moore says her only thought was the 43 children on her bus when it flipped over.

CLINTON (WATE) - Police are looking for the driver of a car that ran an Anderson County school bus off the road Tuesday morning, sending three students to the hospital.

Deputies say it happened around 8 a.m., near the intersection of Johnson Gap Road and Dutch Valley Road in Clinton.

Anderson County Schools' Bus 20 was taking a load of children to school, traveling down Johnson Gap, when an oncoming car crossed the yellow line into the bus' lane.

School officials say the bus driver had no choice but swerve to avoid a head-on collision, sending the bus off the steep shoulder of the road, eventually coming to rest on its side.

The driver of the car never stopped, and fled the scene.

The bus was carrying 43 students from Dutch Valley Elementary, Clinton High School and Clinton Middle School and was less than half a mile from its destination when the crash occurred.

Students on board say they were sent toppling onto one another.

"I was on top of someone and then two girls came and laid on me," said bus rider Justin Winsbro, a 5th grader from Dutch Valley Elementary.

Winsbro says it happened so fast, the students didn't know what to think.

"I thought it wasn't even reality. I'm like, 'Is this really going on right now?' All the high schoolers actually came running for us elementary students," said Winsbro.

First responders pulled the children out through the emergency door on the back of the bus.

Three children in all were taken by ambulance to the hospital, two with minor injuries including cuts and bruises.

The third had a preexisting condition and was taken for precautionary purposes.

The rest of the children were taken to Dutch Valley Elementary School to be checked out by school nurses.

School officials are praising the actions of the bus driver, saying the accident could have been a lot worse.

Once the car swerved into her lane, the bus driver managed to keep the bus on the road for some 60 to 80 feet before it went off the shoulder into the field.

If they had gone off any sooner, they would have either slammed into a telephone pole or turned over into the creek that runs by the road.

"We're very thankful and we're very blessed that it wasn't any worse than it is. This could have been bad," said Anderson County Schools Director of Transportation Joe Forgety.

Bus driver recalls the crash

Bus driver Tammy Moore spoke exclusively to 6 News, saying as the bus crashed, all she could think about were the 43 children on board.

"I love all my kids. I've been driving for 13 years. I cherish the kids on my bus. I didn't want them hurt, so I did all the best I could to keep them from getting hurt," said Moore.

Moore says the children were falling on top of each other, and the older children were helping the younger ones.

She recalled the moment the crash happened, and what the other car looked like.

"The vehicle was a white, small car. There looked to be a white, young man driving it. He had short dark hair," said Moore. "I tried to get over to keep from hitting the car, and the wheels went off the side of the bus, and the bus flipped over."

She says she feels very lucky.

"I think the good Lord above had his hands on me and my children, and protected me and my kids."

Because the crash happened in a small area, Moore believes someone knows who the driver is.

Anderson County Deputies and troopers with the Tennessee Highway Patrol are using surveillance footage from the camera mounted inside the bus to help identify the car involved.

School officials are hopeful they'll identify that person soon.

6 News Reporters HAYLEY HARMON and MONA NAIR contributed to this report.

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