Five-year-old Cambria Shuman was killed on her way to school Tuesday morning. She and other children were riding a bus along a dirt road in the Gum Branch area when it went off the road.
Around 20 other children and the bus driver were also injured. Liberty Regional Medical Center reported it saw 11 children and had released all but one by mid-afternoon. That one had been transferred to a hospital in Savannah. Winn Army Community Hospital on Fort Stewart reported it saw 13 children and had released all but one.
The driver, Evelyn Rodriguez, 62, was reportedly still in Memorial Health Center in Savannah Tuesday afternoon, but her condition was not available.
It was foggy Tuesday morning, but Georgia State Patrol Lt. Thornell King said it was too early to say what caused or contributed to the crash. The Troop I assistant commander did say GSP’s accident recreation unit was investigating and videos from inside the bus would be reviewed. He said the bus was taken to one of the school system’s motor pools for further investigation.
The children on the bus ranged in age from 5 to 12 and were headed to Taylors Creek Elementary and the Pre-K Center.
Liberty County EMA Assistant Director Larry Logan, who was one of the first on the scene, said the bus went into a ditch on Ray Road near where it meets Highway 196.
EMS personnel were seen moving children on stretchers to waiting ambulances as worried parents walked beside their children.
Logan said enough ambulances were at the scene to take the victims to hospitals. Some parents, however, chose to drive their own children for treatment.
Liberty County Schools reportedly had representatives at the scene, and at hospitals where children were taken.
The school board office released a statement at mid-morning:
“... Our thoughts and prayers are with the student’s family in their time of grief. The remaining students and driver were transported to local hospitals. Grief counselors have been made available to all students and staff. ... The Liberty County School System asks the community to join them in continued thoughts, prayers and support for all individuals affected by today’s accident.”
Logan said some children were able to get off the bus on their own, others were assisted off by emergency workers.
“It was a very unfortunate situation,” he said.
Lewis Levine was the lead reporter on this story.