18-wheeler rear-ends school bus in Wagener

By: Kate Tillotson
By: Kate Tillotson

Some local middle and high school students were put into neck braces and onto stretchers in Aiken County this morning after an 18-wheeler rammed into their school bus.

It happened on Highway 39 near Family Circle Road in Wagener.

15 students were taken to the Aiken Regional Medical Center, but with no serious injuries.

Parents worry the road continues to be unsafe.

Would you want your child's bus stop to be on the side of a highway?

It's a lingering question in Wagener today, where several students could have been seriously hurt.

It was a bus stop that literally stopped the bus in its tracks.

"They need to slow down because this could have been way worse. That bus could have been way out there somewhere," says resident Diann Wells.

"No and we hit right there," says 7th grader Gatlin Satterthwaite. He was sitting three seats from the back.

"My head had went forward and hit a seat," he says.

"As a parent, your first reaction is, 'Oh my God, is my child dead?'" says Michelle Satterthwaite, Gatlin's mother.

Michelle found her son at Aiken Regional, still wearing his ID bracelet and triage tags around his neck. He complained of a sore back; Michelle took him to be X-rayed.

"My father-in-law is handicapped. He's paralyzed. So a back injury is nothing to play with," Michelle says.

And neither, say drivers, is this road. It's commonly used by truckers as a quick shot to Charleston, with speeds of up to 55 miles per hour.

This kind of traffic has parents concerned. Hefty trucks and high speeds are what they call a dangerous combination.

"I live right there and these trucks come through here, wide open, everyday...everyday," says Wells.

And for Gatlin, an everyday routine now has him looking out for his safety.

"We were all just stunned and shocked that we just really sat there. Like 'I can't believe this is happening. This is supposed to be safe'," he says.

We asked Gatlin how his classmates were doing. He says everyone's fine, and as far as he knows, they've all been released from Aiken Regional.

They're very lucky.

Highway Patrol is still investigating the incident.

But News 12 saw a long tire mark where the driver must have tried to stop, so there certainly was an effort made to slow down.

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